Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

Free the refugees! Let them land, let them stay!

Rally for refugees

Join these events, demanding freedom for refugees and permanent protection.

Labor’s unfinished business: the refugees left behind

Monday 11 July, 6.30pm at Kathleen Syme library and Zoom

Facebook event.

Nine years too long: lift the ban on boat resettlement

Tuesday 19 July, 5.30pm at State Library

Facebook event.

Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2021

Refugee Action Collective (RAC) Victoria has made a submission to the parliamentary committee dealing with the Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill (2021).

The Bill was introduced by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie in 2021.

RAC (Vic) has strongly advocated for the dismantling of indefinite and arbitrary detention on the basis that it is punitive and in clear breach of human rights.

RAC (Vic) believes the Bill provides a framework for rectifying many of the abhorrent and cruel components of Australia’s current detention policies.

However, the Bill in its current form still allows for immigration detention, which we oppose. Therefore, we cannot support the Bill in full until amendments are made to delete the potential for any length of immigration detention.

Read our submission in full here.

Car convoy case adjourned until 6 September

UPDATED ON 1 MARCH. A magistrate today adjourned the case until 6 September while the Court of Appeal hears a case that has a bearing on the RAC supporters’ fines.

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Almost 30 RAC Vic supporters are appealing fines imposed for taking part in a COVID-safe car convoy to the Mantra Hotel prison in April 2020. On Monday, 4 October, a magistrate adjourned the case for a two-hour hearing on 1 March.

The RAC supporters were issued with fines of $1652 each for sitting safely in their cars while trying to drive round the Mantra in Preston to show support for the Medevac refugees then locked up there.

The fines totalled about $50,000 and were issued at a time when people could visit shops like Bunnings without face masks.

Chris Breen was arrested at home the same day and charged with incitement for allegedly posting a Facebook event promoting the car convoy. He won his case in court in March this year.

RAC supporters were showing care and compassion for the refugees who were locked in the hotel and at risk of contracting COVID from security guards.

RAC argued then, and continues to argue, that the real health risk was not a car convoy but unlimited detention of men who had been accepted as refugees but left to rot by the Australian government.

Find out more about the campaign and show your support.

Government must drop three new anti-refugee Bills

The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) joins with other refugee supporters in calling on the federal government to abandon three pieces of proposed legislation before parliament.

As the world watches in horror as the humanitarian crisis unfolds in Afghanistan, the Australian government is being asked to demonstrate more compassion not less. These Bills seem at odds with current community expectations.

The Bills are an attempt to revive previously discredited measures and impose an even harsher and inequitable regime on refugees and asylum-seekers. The Bills have nothing to do with good governance and are set to drive people already in mental distress even further into despair.

As the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has rightly said: “The suite of Bills targets refugees, people seeking asylum and other migrants who are in immigration detention or facing visa cancellation or refusal.

“If passed, these Bills would cause more people to be held in indefinite detention, potentially for the rest of their lives, or to be deported to countries where they face serious harm or have little connection to, with many also facing permanent separation from their Australian spouses and children.”

The three Bills are:

  • The Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention) Bill 2020 – which will, if passed, allow the Minister to prevent refugees and people seeking asylum from having everyday items, such as mobile phones, while in detention.
  • The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2019 – which will introduce arbitrary and unreasonably low thresholds for the Minster to revoke or refuse visas for people based on the maximum possible sentence they could receive, rather than the sentence they actually received.
  • The Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020 – which will allow the Minister to use secret information to revoke the visas of refugees and people seeking asylum.

RAC (Vic) believes that the current suite of laws governing refugees and asylum-seekers is already draconian and that these Bills represent another severe attack on human rights.

In particular, RAC acknowledges the enormous part that access to a mobile phone plays for those in detention – to contact friends, family and lawyers, and to monitor and record potential breaches of their rights by the detention system.

At a time when the government should be focused on major issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the dangers posed by global warming, and poverty, introducing these new Bills designed to harm some of the most vulnerable in our society is petty, cruel and capricious.

RAC calls on the ALP, Greens and cross-bench MPs and senators to oppose these new Bills with the utmost vigour.

We pledge to campaign against them with all the COVID-safe measures at our disposal.