Covid-19 Crisis

The Covid-19 crisis is affecting refugees & people seeking asylum. What you can do to help them.

   Income support     Temporary Visas   People in detentionRight-to-protest threat
Upcoming Events and Actions

Phone calls for freedom
Monday 25 May 2020, 12.00 noon to 1:30pm

Love Makes a Way’s MP enmasse phone call-a-thon.
Guided by messaging and strategies from the 65 refugees and asylum seekers detained in Melbourne’s Mantra Hotel, we’ll share resources and tips, offering support and guidance as, together, we make these important phone calls to politicians.  RSVP and get the online meeting details by emailing lovemakesawaymelb@gmail.com
by 5.00pm Sunday 24 May.

A new song from Moz
Moz was detained on Manus Island and is now being held in Melbourne’s Mantra hotel. His new song Love was produced by Jim Moginie of Midnight Oil fame.
Listen to and download Love from Moz’ BandCamp page
and help him survive.

COVID-19 and International Refugee Law
Thursday 4 June 2020 5.00pm – 6.00pm (AEST)
A webinar co-hosted by the International Law Association (Australia)
and the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW
Register on EventBrite.

Justice For Refugees SA (J4RSA) letter to South Australian Premier
Steven Marshall
J4RSA will be dedicating the next few months to promoting and writing campaigns that will hopefully ensure the most vulnerable among us are given the support needed to survive COVID-19. Download and print this letter, sign it and send to SA Premier Steven Marshall.

Let nobody be left behind

Nobody Left Behind:
Ensuring people seeking asylum, refugees and other vulnerable groups are included in COVID-19 responses. (Refugee Council of Australia).
Sign this letter to Prime Minister Morrison.
Add your organisation’s name to the letter: fill out this form.

Watch these videos
They are people just like us #Didyouknow (YouTube video).
from People Just Like Us.
David Manne from Refugee Legal and comedian Tom Ballard (a Refugee Legal Ambassador) talk about the impact of COVID-19 on the people Refugee Legal are helping and the work being done during the lockdown.
View this discussion(YouTube video).
Want to sponsor a refugee? Some words of advice  in this YouTube video..

Income support

The issues:
Five questions about temporary protection visas in the age of COVID-19 (Prepared by the Kaldor Centre)
COVID-19 is having an impact on everyone around the world, but particularly the most vulnerable. In Australia, government responses so far have been directed toward protecting public health and supporting businesses and employees. Sarah Dale, the Centre Director and Principal Solicitor at the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS), describes how this public health crisis is affecting refugees and people seeking asylum who are on temporary visas. Read more…

What you can do:

Sign this letter to Prime Minister Morrison
Nobody Left Behind: Ensuring people seeking asylum, refugees and other vulnerable groups are included in COVID-19 responses. (Refugee Council of Australia).
Download the letter
.
If your organisation would like to sign-on to the letter, please
fill out this form.

Email your federal and state/territory parliamentary representatives:
COVID-19 – Refugees and people seeking asylum need income support
The letter writing resources page on this website has federal, state and territory politicians’ email addresses and phone numbers.
Here are some more email, letter writing and talking tips.

The Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown Sydney, desperately needs your help to continue. To find out how to donate go to the ASC website.

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Temporary visa holders

The issues:
In addition to refugees and those seeking asylum people on ‘temporary’* visas are also at risk because of the Covid-19 restriction.

Given the current exclusion of temporary visa holders from receiving income support under the COVID-19 crisis arrangements, it is important to be clear about the situation for refugees and people who are seeking asylum on Bridging Visas, TPVs and SHEVs.  More information about temporary visas.

This dad earned $16.84 this week: he can’t get the coronavirus welfare payment (Buzzfeed)
Gavesh just lost his job but he cannot get Centrelink
(Asylum Seeker Resource Centre)
The ‘forgotten people’: let’s give them a chance
(AusBulletin)
COVID-19 to impact Australian refugees without access to welfare
(ABC Radio -AM)

What you can do:
*Read this explainer about temporary protection visas
(Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law).

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People in detention centres

The issues:
Risks to refugees and people seeking asylum who are in detention:
#DialitDownDutton. Don’t take away asylum seekers’ phones! (change.org petition)
Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020 [Provisions]
Federal Government pushing for greater search and seize powers in immigration detention centres (ABC) 14 May 2020
Moz, detained in Mantra Hotel speaks of fears on COVID-19 infection
(Moz from Manus – Youtube)
80 refugees detained in Brisbane Kangaroo Point Central Hotel fear
COVID-19 infection
(SBS)
Villawood detainees fear COVID-19 infection (SBS)
Virus dangers in detention centres (Youtube)
UN calls for release of detainees (SBS)
Minister Dutton rejects calls to release refugees (SBS)
Concerns for refugees held in Brisbane hotel (SBS)
Visits to detention centres halted (Buzzfeed)
Letter to National Cabinet highlighting OHS issues in detention centres during
COVID-19 crisis
. (Refugee Action Collective – RAC)

The Biloela family is still held on Christmas Island
The ARAN Biloela family campaign page
has information and action suggestions, including signing the:
Refugee Action Collective (Qld)/Change.org petition

Concerns about COVID-19 in PNG and Nauru
New fears for asylum seekers in PNG and Nauru  (The Saturday Paper)
Covid-19: Calls for evacuation of refugees from Nauru, PNG
(Radio New Zealand)
Tamil refugee Shamindan Kanapathi reports on his situation
(Youtube video 3.34: use the cc (closed captions) button to access subtitles.

What you can do:
Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020 [Provisions]. This Bill which gives Minister Dutton power to confiscate mobile phones in detention been referred off to the Legal and Constitutional Senate Committee. Write a submission; due by June 11.

• Check out the latest protests:
Melbourne banner drop
on Facebook.

• Email your state/territory Premier/First Minister:
COVID-19: people in detention are at high risk of infection
The letter writing resources page on this website has federal, state and territory politicians’ email addresses and phone numbers.
Here are some more email, letter writing and talking tips.

• Email your federal and state/territory parliamentary representatives: the letter writing resources page on this website has federal, state and territory politicians’ email addresses and phone numbers.
Here are some more email, letter writing and talking tips.

• Watch: Bilingual refugee doctors live streaming weekly conversations as part of #refugeesrise campaign on the Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR) Facebook page. Go there…

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The right to protest threatened by
COVID-19 related policing – Victoria

The issue:
In Melbourne on Friday 10 April the Refugee Action Collective (RAC -Vic) staged a vehicle cavalcade protest bearing signs outside the Mantra Hotel in Melbourne, drawing attention to the desperate situation of about 60 refugees who have been imprisoned there for around six months, since their transfer under Medevac.

What you can do:
Check out CovidPolicing.org.au
A website to track the extraordinary expansion of police powers in response to the Covid-19 virus. This collaborative project is run by legal and human rights advocacy organisations, backed up by a network of policing academics with a coordinator in each state.

Missed the Monday 4 May online forum?
In case you missed the RAC Forum Refugee Racism is a Health Risk: Defend the Right to Protest you can view it on Facebook.

Email Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews: daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au
Police Minister Lisa Neville: lisa.neville@parliament.vic.gov.au and
Attorney General Jill Hennessy: jill.hennessy@parliament.vic.gov.au
There are suggestions to include in your email below.
Here are more email, letter writing and talking tips.

Endorse a Refugee Action Collective (RAC) public statement for organisations and prominent people. The aim is to publish the statement in a newspaper with endorsements.

Sign and share this Refugee Action Collective (RAC) petition on Megaphone.

Contribute to the legal defence campaign: support safe action to protect refugees from COVID-19.

Attend this public meeting on Zoom: Refugee Racism is a Health Risk: Defend the Right to Protest. Monday 4 May 2020. Find out more, including how to register…

Follow up this issue with your local member of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council (Upper House) representative with an email and phone call. Find your local representatives – and their contact details – on the Victorian parliament’s members’ list.

Follow these tips. Here are relevant writing and talking points:
• Insist that the Victoria Government act to ensure refugees and asylum seekers detained at the Mantra Hotel and those at MITA be released to the safety of the community (or at very least, those whose health is compromised must be released immediately),
• The refugees there are at grave risk of contracting COVID-19 because the crowded conditions in which they are confined make social distancing and Covid19 hygiene impossible,
• The 70 men held in the Mantra Hotel (most for over 6 months) are at high risk of infection given shared rooms, shared bathrooms and dining arrangements and lack of PPE and isolation strategies which are available to people in their own homes,
• The protest did not pose a public health risk, as people remained in their vehicles and observed social distancing,
• Public health measures must not curtail the freedom to safely protest – guarding our democracy must also be a high priority,
• That the arrest of one of the organisers, and the confiscation of computers is a significant over reaction to the protest action which posed no public health
risk, and
• Request that the charges be dropped and all fines be withdrawn.

Here are some  more email, letter writing and talking tips.

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Additional Letter writing and talking tips,
information and resources

In addition to the tips above, the following links will help you in your actions to support refugees and people seeking asylum.

Asylum Insight facts & analysis
This explainer sets out the key issues for asylum seeking in Australia that have emerged in the first months of the coronavirus crisis. The long-term implications of COVID-19 for asylum policy in Australia are yet to play out.
Asylum Insight (5 May 2020)

Contact details for State Premiers and Chief Ministers (April 2020)
Contact details for State Attorneys-General (April 2020)

The letter writing resources page on this website has federal, state and territory politicians email addresses and phone numbers.

There are also tips for writing and talking to politicians.

Grandmothers for Refugees NSW Asylum Seeker – Refugee FAQ sheet.

The ARAN News, Media ReleasesActions and Palm Sunday pages have content information to help you with facts and figures when composing your emails or for when your talking to your political representatives.

External links:

By refugees, for refugees: Refugee leadership during COVID-19, and beyond
(Kaldor Centre UNSW) 20 April 2020

Send a message to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton via the
The Action Network

Send a message to  Canberra and ACT politicians
via the  Refugee Action Campaign – Canberra/ACT

Media Reports from Australia’s media outlets.

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Previous Actions

Detention is a COVID risk: Exercise Action outside Mantra
Saturday 16 May.
Show your solidarity with 70 refugees trapped in crowded, unsafe conditions in Mantra hotel Preston, and with all the refugees Australia is detaining and excluding. Find out how on Facebook.
Hosted by Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

All in this together? The pandemic, people seeking asylum, and
refugees in Australia Webinar

Thursday 14 May from 1:00 – 2:00pm
On this free Kaldor Centre virtual discussion, a panel of experts will bring you up to date on the impact of COVID-19 on refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia.
Register on Eventbrite and send us your questions so we ensure we cover as many perspectives as possible in this one-hour lunchtime webinar.

Detention is a COVID risk: Exercise Action outside Mantra
Saturday 16 May. Show your solidarity with 70 refugees trapped in crowded, unsafe conditions in Mantra hotel Preston, and with all the refugees Australia is detaining and excluding. Find out how on Facebook.
Hosted by Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

Kopika’s birthday celebration online
Tuesday 12 May from 7.00pm
join our beautiful Biloela family’s close friends for a very special, virtual 5th birthday celebration for Kopika, live streamed from Biloela on Facebook events.

Free the Refugees – Defend the Right to Protest – Week of Action
Tuesday 5 May to Saturday 9 May
Take action against refugee detention and defend the right to protest.
Find out more on Facebook. Hosted by the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

Make Phone Calls for Freedom
Online video call Wednesday 6 May 2020 Midday to 1.30pm
We will call key Members of Parliament, asking for fairness for people seeking asylum! More information on Love Makes a Way Facebook Event.
RSVP and get the online (video call) meeting details by emailing lovemakesawaymelb@gmail.com by 5.00pm Tuesday 5 May.
In this time of COVID-19 those seeking asylum are at high risk and
need our voice.

Refugee racism is a health risk – defend the right to protest (Facebook Events). Hosted by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC Vic) it’s on at 6.30pm Monday 4 May 2020. Speakers include: Julian Burnside – QC and Liberty Victoria spokesperson, Craig Foster – commentator, advocate and former Socceroos captain, Chris Breen – RAC activist facing ‘incitement’ charge, and Moz from Manus – refugee detained at the Mantra in Preston.
Register in advance for this Zoom online meeting.

Safe Refuge: What happens when the world closes its borders?
Online forum on Monday 4 May at 1.00pm
Hosted by Progress 2020
A discussion on how COVID-19 has impacted refugees and people seeking asylum
o Jeanine Hourani (Road to Refuge)
o Ahmad Hakim (Refugee Voices)
o Ben Doherty (The Guardian)
o Craig Foster (Game Over ambassador)
Register on australiaathome.com.au
See other Progress 2020 information.

Join the digital rally to free Priya, Nades and their girls.
Saturday 2 May 6.00pm
. Guest speaker Vashini Jayakumar. Hosted by the Tamil Refugee Council and Socialist Alternative – Red Flag.
A Facebook live stream.