Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

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

Protest to free refugees rescheduled due to threats of fines, will defy law if necessary

Cavalcade protest is safe, detention centres are not – Free the refugees

 “The Refugee Action Collective (RAC) was due to have a car cavalcade protest today at the Mantra hotel in Preston, calling for the release of refugees held there and across Australia, on public health and humanitarian grounds” said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective

“However RAC was told by Preston police that our proposed protest ‘would breach stay at home directions and therefore be illegal’. Police said we faced fines of $1652 for every person who took part, plus heavier fines for RAC as the organising group. We have now rescheduled our protest for Good Friday at 2pm. If refugees remain under threat of Covid-19, we will support them by defying anti-protest laws safely.”

Breen continued “Our protest will be completely safe, it is the detention centres that are unsafe. Our cavalcade will have a maximum of two people per car (from the same household). No-one will get out of their cars. Our protest will be safer than going shopping, safer than travelling on public transport, safer than non-essential work that continues, and safer by an order of magnitude than being stuck in a sealed corridor in the Mantra.”

“Refugees in the Mantra hotel have come to Australia under the Medevac legislation and many have health conditions that make them vulnerable to Covid-19. Airline staff stay regularly at the Mantra in Preston. Serco guards come and go regularly and have been shown multiple times breaching social distancing regulations. A Serco guard in Brisbane tested positive for Covid-19. Activity areas in the Mantra do not have space for social distancing. Men sleep up to 3 to a room in the Mantra. It is only a matter of time before coronavirus devastates detention centres.”

“Over 1200 doctors have signed a letter calling for the release of refugees from detention. Over 38,000 people have signed a petition calling for the release of refugees from detention. ALP federal MPs Ged Kearney and Peter Khalil have called for the release of refugees in the Mantra, and income support for those in the community (speech from Ged Kearney sent to RAC for the cavalcade is attached)”

“The Refugee Action Collective calls on Premier Daniel Andrews to join those calls and not to use Covid-19 to shut down safe public protest. Daniel Andrews should use public health powers to release the refugees to safe accommodation in Victoria. The health of all Victorians would be compromised by a serious outbreak of Covid-19 in detention centres or alternative places of detention in Victoria.”

“RAC has rescheduled the cavalcade for Friday April 10 (Good Friday). We intend to have a safe public show of  solidarity with refugees, even if that means defying the banning of safe public protest. “

“Refugees themselves continue to protest. Refugees at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane will protest today at 5pm. There is a picture below of refugees at the Mantra protesting yesterday (3/4/20)” concluded Breen

For further comments call Chris Breen from the Refugee Action Collective on 0492 910 302



Hundreds of Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) holders, and protection visa applicants, from around Australia will converge on Canberra to hold a protest on the lawns of Parliament House, on Monday 29 July, from 10.00am-11.30 am. The protest will move to the UN headquarters between 1.30 – 2.00pm.  

There are around 30,000 TPV and SHEV holders and applicants living in the community in Australia, facing increasing hardship due to the long delays in processing applications and the restrictions on the temporary refugee visas, that deny family reunion, the right to travel, and are only valid for three and five years (respectively) before they are re-assessed from scratch.

Thousands are still in limbo; some having arrived in Australia since in 2012 are still waiting for the protection claims to be assessed.

Between 1999 and 2007, approximately 11,000 TPVs were issued, and approximately 90 per cent of TPV holders eventually gained permanent visas. But, since 2014, government legislation prevents refugees gaining permanent visas.

Government policy has created a permanent underclass of refugees in Australian society vulnerable to exploitation, while they denied family reunion and the right to travel.

The TPV, SHEV and protection visa applicants are descending on Canberra to put their case for urgent change to the government, to the Parliament, and to the UN.

For more information: contact Ian Rintoul, 0417 275 713

Samir Kafaji, Iraqi Affairs Association Victoria, 0431 099 338 


Conditions are reaching breaking point on Manus Island. This morning, Monday 24 June, two incidents of self-harm within hours have set the scene for another day of the Manus mental health crisis.

One refugee who has swallowed a nail clipper, around 6.30am has been taken to the local hospital, although guards initially refused to transport him there because the hospital is overcrowded. A few hours later, an asylum seeker who has been refusing food for several days, has slashed his head.

Yesterday, Sunday 23 June, there were another five incidents of self-harm in Manus and Port Moresby, including two on Manus Island.

The night before that (Friday 21 June), Ravi, the 31 year-old Indian asylum seeker who set fire to himself and his room, along with two other Manus refugees were transferred from Manus to the intensive care unit of Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby.

The number of self-harm and attempted suicides in Manus and Port Moresby grows by the day.  There are around 14 people being held in the Shamrock Compound on Manus Island following suicide attempts or self-harm incidents. (Attached is a photograph of one of the self-harm casualties being transported from Hillside camp on Saturday 22 June.)

But, the reported self-harm incidents are only the tip of the iceberg as many others exhibiting the symptoms of ‘resignation syndrome’ are refusing food and water, and  do not com out of their rooms, as they withdraw from social contact of any sort.

“Manus is reaching a new crisis point,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “ The suicide attempts and constant level of self-harm is creating an intolerable situation for the refugees themselves who are left to struggle to deal with the daily toll inside the compounds on Manus.

The tensions in the refugee compounds across Manus are reaching breaking point as the refugee population struggles to cope.

“Every one of fears that we are reaching breaking point. It’s like that in every compound,” one of the Manus refugees told the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Rather than ramping up the political rhetoric, in his effort to curry support to repeal the Medevac bill, Peter Dutton should be getting people who need medical help off Manus Island and Nauru. While Dutton peddles more myths about refugees declining resettlement in the US, he is wilfully ignoring those who need urgent help,” said Ian Rintoul.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

Refugee Action Coalition