Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

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

Archives June 2019

Unionists for Refugees & the Refugee Action Collective call on Premier Andrews to offer Biloela family safety

Unionists for Refugees & the Refugee Action Collective call on Premier Andrews to offer Biloela family safety

Unionists for Refugees and The Refugee Action Collective call on Premier Daniel Andrews to offer safe haven to a refugee family facing deportation and urge the Morrison government to let them stay.

Priya and Nades were settled in Biloela, Central Queensland, after fleeing torture in Sri Lanka. Despite the evidence of human rights organisations on the ground, the Australian government has now determined that Sri Lanka is safe, so they are trying to force this family – and countless others – to return. This follows the return to danger of 20 Sri Lankan asylum seekers, including one baby, last week after their boat was intercepted by Australian authorities.

Almost 200,000 people have signed a petition calling for the family – Priya, Nades, and their two Australian born children, Kopika and Tharunicaa – to stay in Australia. The family were forcibly transferred from their home in Biloela to the Melbourne Transit Accommodation Centre 15 months ago when Priya’s bridging visa expired.

The community of Biloela and the wider refugee rights movement have rallied around the family, and are campaigning for the Morrison government to bring the family #hometobilo. Before the federal election, then-Labor leader Bill Shorten said if Labor won, he would have their case examined for ministerial intervention. New Labor leader Anthony Albanese could make a difference if he would call for the family to stay.

“Unionists for Refugees and the Refugee Action Collective also call on Premier Andrews to stand up to the Morrison government and demand that the family be allowed to stay,” said  Clare Middlemas for Unionists for Refugees. In 2016, Premier Andrews wrote to Prime Minister Turnbull offering a welcome to stay in Victoria for a group of 267 asylum seekers who had come from Manus and Nauru for medical treatment. Those refugees are still here.

“The health of Priya and Nades’ girls inside detention is deteriorating so much that a complaint has now been made to Victorian child protection authorities. We are calling for the Premier to step in to help Priya, Nades and their children, by repeating the offer of sanctuary he made to the ‘Let Them Stay’ group of asylum seekers. The same offer of safety to this family could help prevent their deportation to danger. Such a call could add to pressure on Minister Coleman and the Morrison government to use their discretion to allow the family to stay.”

For further comment call

Chris Breen – Refugee Action Collective 0403 013 183 or

Clare Middlemas – Unionists for Refugees 0488 454 003




There have been two more cases, one of attempted suicide and one of serious self-harm, involving refugees in Port Moresby overnight.

In the early hours of Monday morning ((3 June), one 30 year old Somali refugee attempted to hang himself off the balcony of the Granville Motel, while a 31 year-old Iranian refugee has badly self–harmed. Both have been taken to the Pacific International Hospital. Their condition is not known. (Around 50 refugees are housed under guard in Granville Motel while they wait for medical treatment at the Pacific International Hospital. Many have been waiting for months without treatment.)

This brings the total number of attempted suicides and incidents of self-harm on Manus and in Port Moresby to well over 30, since the federal election on 18 May.

Two people who attempted suicide on Manus were transferred from Manus to Port Moresby last week. Meanwhile the local Lorengau hospital on Manus Island, has sent all suicide and self-harm victims back to their respective refugee compounds because they needed the beds for local patients. Two suicidal guys are in Shamrock compound.

There is no care or supervision in either the refugee camps or Shamrock (a low-level security compound), where one refugee attempted to hang himself last week.

“The situation on Manus continues to spiral downwards,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “Yet the government has no resettlement plan for those illegally held on Manus for almost six years.”

“The Australian government continues to persecute people that have been found to be owed international protection. Only 40 people have been transferred from Manus and Nauru for medical treament since the Medevac Bill became law in February.  There is an urgent need for the medical transfer of all those who are at risk on Manus and Nauru.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713
Refugee Action Coalition