Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

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

Support grows for refugee COVID convoy protesters

The Refugee Action Collective has issued a sign-on statement, calling for solidarity with those harassed in connection with a solidarity car convoy to the Mantra hotel in Preston.

RAC activist Chris Breen was arrested for “incitement” and 30 refugee activists are receiving $1652 fines.

Organisations and individuals have been quick to add their names to the statement. Some of those are listed below, with many more having signed.

To add your support, email your name and organisation and position (if applicable) to


Maritime Union of Australia
United Workers Union
Australian Education Union Victoria Branch (by a separate resolution)
Health and Community Services Union (HACSU)
CFMEU Construction & General Division VIC/TAS Branch
NTEU Victorian Division
ETU Queensland and NT Branch
Ballarat Regional Trades and Labour Council
Hume Central Secondary College AEU Sub Branch
RMIT University NTEU branch committee
Federation University NTEU branch committee
Australian Unemployed Workers Union
The Victorian Greens
Tamil Refugee Council
Labor for Refugees NSW
Unionists for Refugees (Vic)
Aireys Inlet Rural Australians for Refugees
Fremantle Refugee Rights Action Network
Hunter Asylum Seeker Advocacy
Black Sash Australia
Kommonground Inc
Pax Christi Victoria
Pax Christi NSW
Pax Christi Australia
Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre
Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project
Refugee Action Coalition NSW
Refugee Action Collective Queensland
3CR Community Radio
University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council
Apollo Bay Rural Australians for Refugees
Jews for Refugees
Campaign Against Racism and Fascism
Earthworker Cooperative
Mums for Refugees
Grandmothers for Refugees NSW
Young Labor Left NSW
The Greens NSW
Socialist Alliance
Benalla Rural Australians for Refugees
Justice for Refugees
Stand Together Against Racism
Socialist Alternative
Victorian Socialists
Combined Refugee Action Group, Geelong
Refugee Rights Action Network WA
Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support
Australian Student Christian Movement
We Are Union: Benalla
Northside Youth with Refugees
Students for Refugees Society
The Architecture Lobby (Vic)
Communist Party of Australia
Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (WA)
Democracy in Colour
Adelaide Vigil for Manus and Nauru
Australian Association of Social Workers (Vic)
Teachers for Refugees (NSW)
University of Melbourne Greens Club
Freedom Socialist Party
Radical Women
Darebin Greens
Indigenous Social Justice Association
Freedom Socialist Party (US)
Love Makes A Way, Melbourne
CLACCA Universal Life Church


Behrouz Boochani, former Manus detainee, author, film-maker
Mostafa Azimitabar (Moz from Manus)
Abdul Aziz Adam, former Manus detainee
Senator Nick McKim, Tasmania (Greens)
Senator Janet Rice, Victoria (Greens)
Senator Lidia Thorpe, Victoria (Greens)
Senator Mehreen Faruqi, NSW (Greens)
Jenny Leong, NSW Greens MP
David Shoebridge, NSW Greens MP
Dr Tim Read, Victorian Greens MP
Samantha Ratnam, Victorian Greens MP and leader
Ellen Sandell, Victorian Greens MP
Sam Hibbins, Victorian Greens MP
Lee Rhiannon, former NSW Senator (Greens)
Gavin Marshall, former Victorian Senator (ALP)
Paul Petersen, Assistant Branch Secretary MUA, Queensland Branch
Keith McKenzie, President ETU, Qld and NT Branch
Michael Thomson, State Secretary, NTEU NSW Division
Robert Richter QC, barrister
Greg Barns, Former National President Australian Lawyers Alliance
Julian Burnside AO QC, barrister
David Risstrom, barrister
Elizabeth Cox, former UN Women Director, Pacific region
Wendy Bacon, journalist and researcher
Arnold Zable, author
Alex Bhathal, President Victorian Branch Australian Association of Social Workers
Professor Emeritus Stuart Rees OAM, University of Sydney
Dr David Brophy, Senior Lecturer in Modern Chinese History, University of Sydney
Dr Katrina Watson OAM
Dr Kerry Goulston AO
Dr Kerry Breen AM
Dr David Cade
Professor Catherine Greenhill
Cr Sue Bolton, Moreland Council
Cr Jessica Dorney, Moreland Council
Cr Mark Riley, Moreland Council
Emeritus Professor Joseph Camilleri OAM, Chair, Academic Board, La Trobe College Australia
Dr John Slavin
Dr Elyse Methven, Law lecturer UTS
Dr Mirna Cicioni
Alison Battinson, Principal lawyer, Human Rights for All
Dr Anthea Vogl, Senior law lecturer UTS
Dr Sara Dehm, Law lecturer UTS
Dr Kevin Sweeney, Convenor, Amnesty Newcastle
Peter Murphy, Sydney Peace and Justice Coalition
Cr Cath Blakey, Wollongong Council
Associate Professor Georgina Murray, Griffith University
Cr Stephen Nugent, Orange City Council
Louise Redmond, National President, Rural Australians for Refugees
Jonathan Strauss, National Secretary, Rural Australians for Refugees
Marie Sellstrom, Immediate Past National President, Rural Australians for Refugees
Professor Emeritus Frank Stilwell, Political Economy, University of Sydney
Cr Philippa Veitch, Deputy Mayor, Randwick Council
Dr Michael Grewcock, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, UNSW
Dr Bridget Honan, Emergency physician
Cr Petros Constantinou, Coordinator, KEERFA (Movement United Against Racism and the Fascist Threat), Athens City Council
Associate Professor Bill Dunn, University of Sydney
Associate Professor Anne McNevin, The New School, New York
Cr Jonathan Sri, Brisbane City Council
Hannah Buchan, President, University of Melbourne Student Union
Cr Gaetano Greco, Deputy Mayor, Darebin Council
Dr June Factor, Convenor, Befriend a Child in Detention

RAC statement on COVID-19 and rallying for refugees

8 January 2021

RAC takes the pandemic seriously: we are well aware of the threat COVID-19 has posed, in particular to refugees in detention. We will do everything we can to minimise risk at the rally to free the Medevac refugees at 2pm this Saturday 9 January at the State Library.

We will encourage social distancing and the spreading out of attendees. We require masks to be worn, and will provide them free on the day. We will provide hand sanitiser and QR registration codes.

We note that around 13,000 people watched Melbourne Victory vs Brisbane Roar on 2 January and that there are no absolute limits on crowds indoors in the casino, strip clubs or shopping centres, only density requirements. There is no reason that people rallying for refugee rights should be more restricted.

Victoria has now had two days in a row of zero COVID-19 cases (from almost 60,000 tests), reducing the level of risk. The level of risk posed by outdoor events such as rallies is less than indoors – Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has acknowledged the risk is 20 times less outdoors. We will also be wearing masks.

The risk from continuing indefinite detention to refugees is not small. One in two people in the MITA detention centre in Broadmeadows have self-harmed or attempted suicide. The figure is one in five in the detention hotels. A few days after refugees were forcibly moved to the Park Hotel one man tried to jump off the roof. More than half of refugees held offshore have diagnosable mental illnesses caused by detention. Thirteen people have died offshore. Every day refugees mental and physical health deteriorates in detention.

Refugees themselves are more at risk of COVID-19 than the general population. They have been left unable to properly protect themselves from COVID-19 in detention and the fear of the pandemic has further eroded their mental health. Outside detention, refugees are denied JobKeeper or JobSeeker, making them especially vulnerable. Despite all these difficulties refugees continue to demand their freedom and security, and ask for our solidarity.

The pandemic has not stopped the Coalition’s cruelty to refugees. Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton get lies about refugees into the media on a regular basis. Protest is the voice of refugees in detention. Protest is the voice of the refugee solidarity movement outside of detention, it is often how we get coverage of refugee issues in the media. The refugee movement is the opposition to the Coalition on refugees and we will not let our voice fall silent.

The people imprisoned in the Park Hotel are all recognised refugees. They were brought here for treatment but have received punishment instead.

As Moz, a refugee detained for seven and a half years, first on Manus and now in the Park Hotel has said:

The government hides the reality from people. I want people to see clearly what the Australian government is doing. I want them to see that the government is torturing us.

I think we will be free when thousands of people come into the streets. I don’t believe we’ll be freed by the people who have kept us in cages for years. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I believe I will get my freedom from the people.

We encourage all refugee supporters to rally at the State Library at 2pm on Saturday 9 January and march with us to the Park Hotel, to demand freedom and permanent resettlement in Australia for the refugees held there.