Unionists for Refugees organised a barbeque on April 30 at the Victorian Trades Hall to welcome the refugees who had recently been released from hotel detention.
During 2019, about 65 refugees were brought to Melbourne for medical treatment from Manus Island and Nauru under the now defunct Medevac law. They were initially detained in the Mantra Hotel in Preston and later moved to the Park Hotel in Carlton.
Other Medevac refugees were detained in the Kangaroo Point Hotel in Brisbane, and later moved to an immigration prison near the airport.
Regular protests were organised outside both hotel prisons, while some refugees challenged their detention in court.
As a result of the protests and the legal action, the federal government began releasing some of the refugees. About 12 the original 65 refugees remain in the Park Hotel, however a number of those detained in the Kangaroo Point Hotel have been bought to the Park Hotel prison. About 25 refugees remain trapped there now.
Those who have been released on temporary visas have received no support from the federal government. Some have found work, often under highly exploitative conditions, while others are dependent on assistance from refugee supporters and charities.
A collection for the refugees was taken up at the barbeque.
[Chris Slee is an activist in the refugee movement.]