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Poetry Prize 2020 now live!

Welcome all to Refugee Week 2020.  This week aims to help all Australians to have a better understanding about who refugees are and why they have come to Australia. It also celebrates the contributions refugees make to our communities. The aim behind a focus on refugees over this week is to build compassion and unity in our communities.  Trying to imagine ourselves in the position of a refugee is challenging. For most of us, our lives are so far removed from that experience. We can though, all build our understanding, and through that understanding, increase community compassion. Then we might be able speak with unity, that enough is enough. You can play your part this week.
Encourage others to get involved:
To understand more about the theme for this year watch this video , share with friends
Make a resolution:
Attend online events:
Share information about the experience of being a refugee
If everyone of us got just one other person to take action, think of the ripple of change we could create.

Of course, many refugees locked up in detention centres, or hotels posing as detention centres in Australia may not be feeling very welcomed. This month we in BR4R have tried in a small way to redress that.  We have purchased and distributed warm clothes for seven refugees currently locked up in Melbourne. We have heard directly from those who received the clothes that our contributions have been very welcome. Thanks to those who donated time, expertise and money for this project.

This month we welcomed author Mark Isaacs to our June Open Meeting by Zoom. Marc talked about his experience in Afghanistan which led him to write his latest book, The Kabul Peace House. This is a thought provoking read which again demonstrates the power of individuals to create change.  We have a few copies of Marcs book left for sale. 

Our art exhibition Re-making Place is now back on the calendar. It will be held during the week of 13-18th October at the Ignite gallery, in Ballina. This exhibit features work by refugees living on the Mid North Coast of NSW. You are warmly welcomed to this exhibit. We also hope to welcome some of the artists to join us on the launch evening to talk about their experience. More details about the launch evening will be in our July newsletter.  

Finally, we received the sad news this week that Juraj 'George' Paden, the husband of Aunty Julia Paden, had passed. Aunty Julia has been a regular contributor to our Palm Sunday rallies with her warm Welcome to Country. Our hearts and thoughts go to Aunty Julia, the families of George and Julia, and to their community.
Warm regards, Ruth

Detainees shut inside for three months!

Medivaced refugees being housed in the Mantra Hotel in Melbourne have not been allowed outside the building since the Covid-19 shutdown.  Apart from the extra physical and mental stress that this is causing, recent studies have found a link between low levels of Vitamin D and Coronavirus mortality.
Melbourne refugee advocate, Janet Wilson, reports that “the men are in very poor condition and medication is prescribed liberally for detention fatigue which is no longer recognised by the system as a mental illness. It has been normalised. …The men get sicker…The Labor Party is silent.”  To take action, contact Federal MP Justine Elliot by email or phone: (07) 55234371 at Tweed Heads, or (02) 6277 4554 in Canberra. (or an MP of your choice).

BR4R needs your help

All of the work of BR4R that you read about is carried out by a small active group of volunteers. We desperately need to get more administrative type assistance if we are to keep up the momentum.  We can match the task to your skills and time. Please get in touch if you can help:

Inspiring presentation at
BR4R Open Meeting in June

A dozen members recently Zoomed in to a BR4R Open Meeting, to hear Mark Isaacs talk about the Kabul Peace House,  where Afghani man, Insaan, is attempting to educate and unite young people of different ethnic groups, in an effort to foster understanding and encourage peace. In his recently published book, The Kabul Peace House, Mark ‘takes us inside this remarkable and unlikely peace project…where day-to-day life involves terror and extreme danger. He lives alongside these courageous young people and reveals their personal stories of trauma and loss, their setbacks and struggles’. Tom Keneally wrote that it is “a book that gives substantial and realistic hope for what has been until now a repeatedly defeated dream, that human intelligence might evolve into peacemaking.

BR4R submission regarding
Migration Amendment

(Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020
This amendment, in another despicable attempt to break the spirits of refugees and people seeking asylum, aims to prohibit them from possessing mobile phones and computers.  Our Treasurer, Rik Dillon, on behalf of BR4R, has written and lodged a detailed submission of objection to the proposed amendment.

Book Donation and Sales

BR4R will be donating two copies of Mark Isaac’s book, The Kabul Peace House, to the Richmond-Tweed library.  You can also purchase a copy for $30, by emailing your request to

Clothing donations to refugees

In response to a call for warm clothing for the Mantra Hotel detainees, BR4R has donated $1095 worth of new clothing.  Meg Pickup and Rosemarie Schibli shopped locally for the clothes and reported an extremely positive response from the managers of George Gooley’s Menswear and Lowe’s Menswear, both of whom provided a discount.  This is especially kind, given the downturn in small business caused by Covid-19. A friend of Rosemarie’s also paid the $70 freight.

Mobile phone request

We all have old mobiles lying around at home, with the thought that one day we will get rid of them. Perhaps we don’t know how to dispose of them?  Refugees are desperate to keep in touch with their families and loved ones. If you have any old working mobile phones lying about, we can make great use of them. We cleanse the data and supply the SIM cards. Please email and we can organise collection.

Roadside Rallies have recommenced

Meg and team stand with placards on Kerr Street in front of Ballina Fair, opposite the Caltex Service Station every second Wednesday at 4pm.  Meg reports that most responses (by toot of horn) are positive.  The next rally is June 17th. The more people go, the more it is noticed.

BR4R Refugee Art Show

The BR4R Refugee Art Show is back on the agenda for October at Ignite Studio (the old Fire Station), Ballina. This will be an exhibition of artworks created by refugees as a project of the Coffs Harbour Settlement Services. Details will follow in the July newsletter.

Next Open Meeting

The hope is that we can have a real face-to-face meeting on the first Saturday afternoon of August (depending where we’re at with Covid-19 by then).  There will be a guest speaker, but this is also your opportunity to have some input into BR4R’s future activities and direction. Please watch for details in the next newsletter.

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Link to BR4R on Facebook

Latest News

For the latest news on matters related to people seeking asylum and refugees please follow these links
Refugee Council of Australia
Kaldor Centre for Refugee Law UNSW
Amnesty International Australia
Ballina Region for Refugees
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Ballina Region for Refugees · PO Box 7083 · East Ballina, NSW 2478 · Australia

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