Refugee supporters get together



CANBERRA — One-hundred-and-twenty refugees' rights activists and supporters gathered on July 23 for a public forum organised by Amnesty International, which indicated the breadth of the refugees' rights movement.

The meeting was addressed by Sue Harris from the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, Michelle Harris, a provider of torture rehabilitation services, and Roland Anderson, adviser to ACT Greens member of the Legislative Assembly Kerrie Tucker.

The panel was followed by brief addresses from representatives of 14 different organisations involved in refugee support and refugees' rights campaigning, including Action for World Development, Public Servants for Refugees, Young Christian Workers, the Refugee Action Committee, St Vincent de Paul Society, Austcare, the National Council of Churches in Australia, Companion House — Assisting Survivors of Torture and Trauma, and Racial Respect. Apologies were heard from ChilOut, Australians for Just Refugee Programs and the Young branch of Amnesty International.

It was announced that a new centre is being established to provide drop-in services for temporary protection visa-holders and asylum seekers. Volunteer lawyers, employment and housing advisors and English language assistance will be available. The centre also aims to assist coordination of refugee support services and information.

The next major activities in the refugees' rights movement were announced, including the black armband campaign for Tampa Day on August 26 and the churches' Refugee Sunday activities on August 25.

From Green Left Weekly, July 31, 2002.
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