Zebedee Parkes

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Phone calls, emails, social media posts, street protests, visits to MP’s offices and Senate inquiry submissions are building momentum to block the federal government’s latest anti-refugee bill in the Senate.

The proposed legislation seeks to place a lifetime ban on any asylum seeker who comes to Australia by boat from ever setting foot in the country. It includes refugees who are resettled in another country and wish to come on tourist, business or partner visas decades later.

Celebrations of multiculturalism happened in 26 cities and rural locations across Australia on October 22 as part of Welcome to Australia events organised under the theme of “Walking together to welcome refugees”.

In Sydney, helium balloons, musical performances, bright red shirts and smiles gave it a carnival like atmosphere. For some it would have been their first refugee rights event.

Doctors and health professionals, with community support, have won a significant victory against the government’s agenda of suppression, fear and secrecy. Health professionals have been made exempt from the secrecy and disclosure provisions of the Border Force Act.

It is amazing how radical believing in the simple notion of welcoming refugees in Australia has become. ABC’s Q&A program on alternatives to detention on October 10 gave some insight into how convoluted the debate on refugees has become.

A number of “compromise solutions” are being put forward but none of them address the worldwide refugee crisis or end Australia’s cruel detention system.

A couple of hundred students took part in banner drops, live artwork and marches at Sydney University's Camperdown campus to save the Sydney College of the Arts.

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government sent a letter to asylum seekers in Manus Island detention centre on September 27 saying the centre will be closed and outlining the next steps.

The letter states: “The purpose of this centre is for refugee status processing. All processing will end soon.”

The letter can be seen as moves by the Australian and PNG governments to close Manus Island detention centre.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has used speeches to the UN General Assembly and US President Barack Obama’s leaders’ summit on refugees to push Australia’s “compassionate humanitarian” solutions to the worldwide refugee crisis.

Yes, the country strongly criticised in numerous UNHCR and Amnesty International reports is using the UN General Assembly to proclaim itself a leader in “compassionate” refugee solutions.

Turnbull is using this “solution” as the cornerstone of a bid for Australia to sit on the UN Human Rights Council.

Former Brisbane high school student and Iranian refugee Mojgan Shamsalipoor was released from detention on a temporary three-month bridging visa on September 21.

Mojgan came to Australia aged 18 in 2012 from Iran, fleeing sexual assault and an arranged marriage to a 60-year-old man.

She was released from Christmas Island into community detention on a temporary visa while her refugee claim was being assessed. She went to high school and later met and married her husband.

Photos by Chelsea Dennison

The good turnout to national rallies on August 27 and 28 shows the refugee rights' movement is starting to gain political ground. A number of pro-asylum seeker groups are forming to force an end to the cruel policy of locking up refugees in offshore detention.

After months of protests, mass meetings and failed talks with the University of Sydney administration, about a dozen Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) students started an occupation of the Dean's office at its Callan Park campus in Rozelle on August 22.

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