8 Years Too Long


ARAN encourages all member groups and refugee supporters to take action on or around 19 July.

Call on the Australian Government to:                                                              

  • End the offshore arrangements with PNG and Nauru. 
  • Bring the remaining refugees to safety.
  • Provide safe resettlement options for all those still in limbo, including those already transferred here in Australia
  • Accept the New Zealand Resettlement Offer 

See listing of local actions here

Resource Kit for Local Actions (download here)


Background – Why is ARAN calling for action on or around 19 July?  

“… prolonged and indefinite detention, combined with bleak future prospects, has broken many of the men, women and children in offshore detention.”

See more information on the Amnesty website  

On July 19 this year it will be 8 long years since PM Kevin Rudd announced that “…as of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia”.  Since then, over 3,100 people seeking asylum in Australia have been ‘offshore’ to PNG and Nauru. There have been 14 deaths and immeasurable suffering. 

What has happened to these people?   

  • 1223 have been transferred to Australia for medical treatment, 
     but are in limbo with no path to safe resettlement (including 192 Medevac refugees) 
  • 125 are still in PNG and 108 are still on Nauru – not detained, but in limbo
  • 942 have left for resettlement in United States (with a further 240 having provisional approval) 
  • RCOA estimates that about 1200 of the 3,100 people subjected to offshore processing since 2013 are in limbo with no pathway to safe resettlement. 

For further detail on statistics see Refugee Council statistics (June 2021)
See also policy brief on Offshore Processing by Jesuit Social Services (June2021)

Hunger strike:  As at 28 June, 14 men are on hunger strike in MITA (Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation).  These men were transferred from PNG for medical treatment nearly 2 years ago, and have been held in hotels in Melbourne and Brisbane since then.   They remain in detention while most of the others transferred under Medevac have either been released, or resettled in the US.  These men are desperate for freedom, but losing hope after 8 long years of suffering.


Key Messages: 

July 19 Statement: 
Don’t Look Away – 8 years of trauma and shame MUST END 
Safe resettlement now for Australia’s refugees 

Hashtags:
#8YearsTooLong #SafeResettlementNow #GameOver  #FreeTheRefugees          

Suggested messages:       

  • 8 Years Too Long: Years of trauma, years of shame
  • End the Harm: Safe Resettlement Now  
  • 8 years of cruelty cost $billions$$ – it’s time for safe resettlement 
  • Let them call Australia home  
  • 8 years of harm offshore: 14 young lives lost: Safe Resettlement Now  
  • 8 wasted years: We took away their youth. Now give them back their futures  
  • Don’t Look Away: Look into your heart for compassion  
  • Compassion does not leave people in limbo: Safe Resettlement Now 
  • Don’t Look Away: He is someone’s son and brother. She is someone’s daughter and sister 
  • Accept the New Zealand offer to resettle refugees


Actions To Take

Rallies will be held in a number of capital cities on Sunday 18 May

Local Actions

Make sure you invite local media to your actions and provide a photo opportunity,   Post photos of your actions on social media.  

Actions at MPs and Senators electorate offices on Monday 19 July

  • Present the July 19 Statement and other messages on a giant envelope (see example below) 
  • Invite people to sign the Game Over petition
  • Invite people to sign a postcard – see links for printable postcards below  
  • Consider an 8 hour ‘stake out’ at your MPs office – an hour for each year. 
  • Banner and poster display in public places 
  • Church bells ringing for 8 minutes – a minute for every year.  
    Make sure there is signage and social media to let people know why the bells are ringing! 
  • Support the Indefinite Refugee Sleepout by sleeping out and having picture added to your FB page. More details on Facebook.
  • Music – lyrics for song by Anthea Falkenberg8 Years of Trauma; 20 Years of Shame
    Lyrics are on Google drive. Contact Anthea for further details  

Online Actions 

Social media:  Use the hashtags:

 #8YearsTooLong     #SafeResettlementNow      #GameOver    #FreeTheRefugees          

  • Tweet key messages 
  • Record a short clip reading the July 19 Statement
  • Post a selfie with a sign using one of the key messages 
  • Share the Game Over petition on your social media 

Contact politicians 

Resources To Support Your Action

  • Short video for sharing – marking 8 years
  • Giant envelope to deliver your messages to your local MP 
  • Posters 
  • Postcards – for mailing and email  
  • Proforma letter
  • Proforma media release
  • Images 
  • Other resources   
    • Words of song by Anthea Falkenberg8 Years of Trauma; 20 Years of Shame   and Poem by Ken Rook
    • Email addresses for senators (by state) 


Giant Envelope with “19 July messages

Create a giant envelope – address it to your local MP – write 19 July messages on the back

Your group can hand-deliver your “letter” to your local MP for a photo opportunity with local media and to interview people who have written a message.  Share on social media.

Large Cardboard sheets for “envelope” are readily available – the example above cost $2.50

  • You can use the Adelaide Vigil image as your “postage stamp” (see image below) 
  • Print and paste onto cardboard
  • Print or write your MP’s address on A4 and paste onto cardboard
  • Invite people to write a message to your MP on the envelope 


Posters

Use these as they are or tweak. Click on a poster to download.



Postcards  

Click on a postcard to download.

Below are postcards for sending via email.


Proforma Letter

Dear Minister (or Local MP or Senator) 

I write concerning people who sought asylum in Australia who have been held in limbo in PNG and Nauru for 8 years. They are trapped there indefinitely unless the Australian government honours obligations towards refugees and people who exercise their right to seek asylum.  It is our responsibility to ensure they have a viable and safe resettlement option. 

There are still approximately 130 people in PNG, and approximately 100 on Nauru, and these ‘left behind’ people are suffering terribly. They have been left without hope for many years and are now experiencing major trauma both physically and mentally- those in PNG are at high risk of contracting COVID. 

People seeking asylum who are in PNG have been attacked. In April this year, as you know, armed gang members overwhelmed security guards at an accommodation complex in Port Moresby where 15 asylum seekers were housed by the Australian Government. Four people were believed to have been seriously hurt during the attack. The Human Rights Law Centre said after years of detention and medical neglect, the threat of violent attacks remains a constant fear for refugees held in both Nauru and PNG.

According to Amnesty International, they are not allowed to work legally.   They cannot access education or the necessary health care.  Nor can they plan for their futures. Many live with trauma and illness due to their long-term detention.

As the US deal will soon be completed, many people will be left without a durable and safe resettlement option. 

I call on you as the responsible Minister to: 

  • Allow these people the right to settle in Australia, or allow them to go to New Zealand
  • Immediately close down the offshore processing operation and bring all asylum-seekers and refugees on Nauru and in PNG to Australia, and ensure those seeking asylum have their claims assessed in a timely, fair and effective manner,

In addition, those who have been brought to Australia for medical treatment, and who are still either in detention, or on short term Bridging Visas also need a safe future. As they are already here with us, it makes sense to grant them permanent visas and allow them to call Australia home.  

Yours sincerely


Sample Media Release

#8 Years Too Long 
End the Trauma and Shame – Release and Resettle Refugees 

On July 19 this year it will be 8 long years since PM Kevin Rudd announced, “As of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia”.

All over the country Australians will be calling on the Government to terminate the offshore arrangements with Nauru and PNG, and END 8 years of trauma and shame – refugees need safe resettlement now. 

The …………..Group will be meeting/ rallying at  (time)……(date) ….. at (place).  

Since 2013, thousands of men, women and children been subjected to offshore detention on either Nauru or Papua New Guinea.  In late 2018 the Kids Off Nauru campaign resulted in all children and their families being brought to Australia.  Many of these children were severely traumatized with Resignation Syndrome, and some still experience emotional difficulties.  None of these people have been resettled here – most have been held in community detention on bridging visas, without the right to work.  Eight years after seeking safety in Australia they still have no certainty about their future.    

Including the families evacuated from Nauru, over 1,161 refugees have been medically evacuated to Australia, and around 100 of these people still remain in detention.   Those released are not eligible for Centrelink payments – after 8 years in limbo, with no work experience in Australia and suddenly expected to work, many are not able to find and hold steady jobs.     

Spokesperson for ….(the group …..)  stated  “ We cannot continue to look away.  These people are somebody’s sons and daughters, dreaming of education, employment and the chance to live in safety.  We have taken away their youth and wasted precious years; we need to end the harm now.”

The costly offshore arrangements with PNG and Nauru must be terminated, and the refugees remaining there should be brought to Australia or resettled in New Zealand – the New Zealand Government is willing and ready to offer to resettle these people.  

It’s time for Australia to stop the cruel treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum, and reset our polices to fairness and compassion.  

For media comment contact:         



Images

Click on an image to download. Then right-click and select save image as…

Heart Images courtesy Adelaide Vigil Group                      


Media Stories 

Offshore Processing Statistics
(Refugee Council) May 2021

Bringing Refugees in Offshore Detention to Safety
(Amnesty)

Until When: The forgotten men on Manus Island
(Refugee Council) 2018

Explosive Footage from inside Manus
(GetUp) 2017

Men of Manus – The Age   2016  
Mohammad Sharif Rahmati from Afghanistan 
 

Imran Mohammad, Rohingya.
 

Amir from Iran 

Mamud el Hasson from Myanmar  

Mir Betnam Moghimi Kivaj, from Iranconverted to Christianity and had to leave his country


Songs and Chants

Song by Anthea Falkenberg
8 Years of Trauma; 20 Years of Shame
(Lyrics on Google drive)

1.
They came across the waters,
They came from far and wide;
They trusted Australia 
Simply to be kind.

CHORUS:
8 years of trauma, 
20 years of shame.
Uncage Australia’s heart.
People all need the same:
Freedom! Safety! Future!

2.
Each person seeking safety
Is just like you and me
But born in a place and time
That threatened their safety.

CHORUS 

3.
Imprisoned on offshore islands,
Rejected from our land,
These women, men and children
Suffered pain no-one could stand.

CHORUS

4.
Some have been settled safely
But a thousand still need hope.
Please take the time to feel
How you would in the same boat.

CHORUS
8 years of trauma,
20 years of shame.
Uncage Australia’s heart.
People all need the same:
Freedom! Safety! Future!

Ken Rookes 2021     
Eight Years too many – This works as a call and response, with someone providing a rhythmic lead, and the group responding

Eight years, much too many!
Left to languish with uncertainty and fear.
Eight long years, much too many!
No joy, no laughter, only bitterness and tears. 

Eight years, much too many!
away from sight, PNG and Nauru,
Eight long years, much too many!
Islands of darkness in the ocean blue.

Eight years, much too many!
Evil people determining their fate.
Eight long years, much too many!
How much longer will they have to wait?

Eight years, much too many!
Four hundred weeks; cruelty, despair.
Eight long years, much too many!
Trauma-damaged people looking for repair.

Eight years, much too many!
Even one year would be way too long.
Eight long years, much too many!
No place to call home, nowhere to belong.

Eight years, much too many!
cruel indifference rules the day
Eight long years, much too many!
Let’s make them welcome, bring them here to stay!

Eight years, much too many!
Where is the justice, hope and empathy?
Eight long years, much too many!
Why must they suffer so, endlessly?

Eight years, much too many!
Refugees are people just like you and me.
Eight long years, much too many!
So much to contribute, come on, set them free!

Eight years, much too many!
Eight long years, much too many!
Eight years!


Addresses For Your Letters and Emails

You can access them in the document below.

Listing of Local Actions

Melbourne (VIC)postponed due to COVID
Monday 19th July at 5.30pm
Eight years too long, free the refugees at the Park Hotel, 701 Swanston Street, Carlton
Lincoln Square, Carlton
More info on Facebook
Organised by Amnesty Refugee Network and Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

Brisbane (QLD)
Wednesday 14th July at 3.00pm
Department of Home Affairs (299 Adelaide St, Brisbane)
End Temporary Visas – Protest lunchtime every Wednesday
More info on Facebook

Brisbane (QLD)
Sunday 18th July
11:30 am – 8 Years 8 Songs
12:00 pm – Rally at BITA
Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA) at 100 Sugar Mill Road, Pinkenba.
Come to the slip road, about fifty metres to the right of the front gate. This is public land.

Adelaide (SA)
Sunday 18th July at 2.30pm
Tarntanyangga / Victoria Square (Grote St, Adelaide)
8 Years of Harm
More info on Facebook

Perth (WA)
Saturday 17th July at 3.00pm
Wesley Uniting Church (75 William St, Perth)
8 Years is Enough: Permanent Safety Now!
More info on Facebook

Canberra (ACT)
Sunday 18th July at 1.00pm
8 Years in Detention Rally
North end of Commonwealth Bridge.
Join us via the Floriade pedestrian traffic lights.
The area is large enough for social distancing. Masks, sanitiser and a CheckIn Canberra code will be available.

Hobart (TAS)
Monday 19th July at 12.30pm
Elizabeth St mall.
Members of Tasmanian Refugee Action Group, Tassie Nannas and Supporters will walk through the Elizabeth St mall with placards and then  onto Senator Jonathon Duniam’s office where we will hold a vigil.
We  we will then present our large letter asking for the resettlement of the asylum seekers to the senator or his staff. As well as the large envelope/letter to Duniam we will have  A4 copies of the letter to send to our Tasmanian senators, Alex Hawke and Scott Morrison.

Darwin (NT)
Monday 19th July at 8pm
Candlelight vigil at the Darwin Airport Detention Facility

Bendigo (VIC)
Monday 19th July at 10.30am
Delivery of letters in “large envelopes” to Lisa Chesters, MP for Bendigo
Cnr. Williamson & Myers Streets, Bendigo

Hamilton (VIC)
Monday 19th July at 11.00am at Hamilton Performing Arts Centre
#8YearsTooLong -Don’t Look Away 
Presented in poetry, song, petitioning and postcard writing, this local action is being replicated all over the country. Please be outraged by this injustice perpetrated in your name by our elected politicians. 
This is a joint initiative by DRASS and Hamilton District Rural Australians for Refugees

Newcastle (NSW)
Sunday 18th July at 3.00pm
Vigil: Eight years, No Freedom (F2F & Zoom)
Awaba park Hamilton Railway Station, Newcastle, NSW.
PLEASE JOIN HASA – in person or, as we’re covid- safe, by Zoom via this link
8 years for what purpose? Refugees in detention will join online.  Innocent people seeking safety in Australia have been imprisoned under torturous conditions for eight years. We have to end this nightmare. Covid-safe event. Also Zoom, so people in immigration detention as well as others can join and talk to us.

Newcastle (NSW)
Sunday 18th July at 8.00pm
Vigil: Eight years, no freedom
King St next to Civic Park.

Cairns (QLD)
Sunday 18th July at 4.00pm
Western Lawn Cairns Esplanade (52 Esplanade, Cairns City)
#8YearsTooLong Rally
More info on Facebook

Cairns (QLD) – Film
Wednesday 21st July at 6.15pm
Cairns Central Cinemas
Cairns Central Shopping Centre, McLeod St, Cairn
Tickets on Trybooking
You can watch the film trailer
More info on Facebook

Darwin (NT)
Wednesday 21st July at 1.00pm
21 Lindsay St, Darwin City
Nationally Coordinated Weekly Home Affairs Protest
More info on Facebook

Newcastle (NSW)
Wednesday 21st July at 5.00pm
King Street, Newcastle, opposite the Newcastle City Hall
For the 8th anniversary of Rudd’s pronouncement on asylum seekers, the Grandmothers for Refugees Newcastle, together with Newcastle Amnesty, are holding a candlelight vigil. There will be music and refugee-themed songs.

Ballina (NSW)
Wednesday 21st July at 4pm
Street-side rally in Kerr St Ballina
Organised by Ballina Region for Refugees

Sydney (NSW)
Sunday 25th July at 2.00pm
Sydney Town Hall
Permanency Not Poverty  Say Yes to Refugees 
Organised by Refugee Action Coalition Sydney
More info on Facebook

Melbourne (VIC)
Sunday 25th July at 2.00pm
State Library, Swanston Street, Melbourne CBD
Permanent visas not discrimination
Organised by Justice for Refugees Victoria, Refugee Voices, Hazara Shamama Association and RAC. This rally was originally scheduled to take place on World Refugee Day but was postponed due to COVID restrictions.
More info on Facebook

Hobart (TAS)
Sunday 25th July
Parliament Lawns (Salamanca Place, Hobart)
End Temporary Visas: Rally for Refugee Rights
More info on Facebook

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