Refugees

Thirty refugee supporters protested outside the Melbourne headquarters of Jetstar on November 9, demanding that Qantas (Jetstar's parent company) cease participating in the deportation of asylum seekers.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian Branch Council has endorsed a planned Walk Off by teachers and education support staff in support of refugees on November 20, Universal Children’s Day.

More than 4000 young people and adults packed into Birrarung Marr park on October 21 for a Children’s March for Nauru, to demand all refugees imprisoned on the Pacific island be resettled in Australia. Chanting “nurture not torture” and “kids out, all out”, participants marched into the city.

There is a medical emergency on Nauru, where many physically and mentally ill refugees are being detained without proper medical treatment, according to Kathy, a refugee on the Pacific island.

Twelve people have died in Australian offshore detention centres in the past five years as a result of murder, suicide and medical neglect, according to Angelica Panopoulos from the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

"The refugee crisis is a union issue, as well as a social justice issue," Australian Services Union (ASU) NSW and ACT deputy secretary Judith Wright told about 100 people on June 27 at the "Change the Rules for Refugees" forum organised by Unions for Refugees.

"The ASU has members in support services for refugees. They see first-hand the results of the oppression and violence suffered by asylum seekers," she said.

Two new documentaries that screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival shine a light, in contrasting but powerful styles, on an important, yet often neglected story in the refugee narrative — why people seek asylum.

A desperate rooftop protest by an Iranian refugee being held on Christmas Island was restarted on June 11 after being subjected to further inhumanity.

Ghazi (not his real name), and another refugee took to the roof of the detention centre in late May to protest the conditions and the lack of access to medical care. According to the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) both men had been in detention for over 3 years and were apparently taken to court and charged over an alleged incident prior to the May protest.

Refugee advocates holding placards at a vigil in Sydney.

Refugee activists in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney held protest vigils for Salim Kyawmin, an elderly Rohingya man who died on Manus Island on May 22. The largest action was in Melbourne where 200 people occupied the streets for a short, time stopping traffic. In Perth refugee activists occupied the department of Immigration, making flowers and in Brisbane a protest was held in front of Peter Duttons office.

Seventy refugee supporters held a birthday party for a young girl outside the State Library on May 12. They ate birthday cake and sang "happy birthday".

But three-year-old Kopika was unable to attend. She was kept behind razor wire in the Broadmeadows detention centre, along with her parents and sister.

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