What is the Refugee Action Collective?
Established in 2000, the RAC is a democratic grassroots collective representing a broad cross-section of the community
The Collective was established as, and continues to be, a voluntary activist group. It is a non-profit entity with the objective of protecting refugee rights through its campaign activism.
The Refugee Action Collective is a member of Refugee Action Network, a network of advocacy groups in Victoria.
We recognise the dispossession and genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and we recognise this land was never ceded. We see the struggle for refugee rights as being deeply connected to the fight for justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We reaffirm the interconnection between all struggles against Australian racism and stand in solidarity with campaigns that challenge it. RAC acknowledges the support given by Aboriginal people, activists and Elders to the cause of refugees’ rights, including giving Aboriginal passports to refugees denied asylum by the Australian state.
We encourage new volunteers to pursue their passions and talents within RAC, be this web design, writing etc. All contributions are valued.
Any person can volunteer and be a member of RAC. All RAC members should seek out new meeting attendees to discuss the political issues, the meeting processes, and how new members would like to be involved.
There are no membership fees to be paid to the collective.
All new members should feel free to seek this information during the meeting or afterwards.
Purpose of RAC
RAC stands for the humane and dignified treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees in accordance with Australia’s international and humanitarian obligation. This includes, however, is not limited to the following:
- Allowing people who arrive by boat seeking asylum in Australia to live and work in the community while their claims are being processed rather than being forcibly detained in Australia or sent overseas to Papa New Guinea, Nauru or other countries.
- Providing permanent protection and not discriminating against refugees on the basis of their documentation, means of arrival or ethnicity.
- By providing fair and speedy assessment of asylum claims in Indonesia and Malaysia and the guaranteed timely settlement in Australia of those determined to be refugees.
- Advocating for a generous approach to accepting refugees based on the wealth of our country which welcomes refugees for their positive contribution to the betterment of Australia’s economy, culture and society.
In more detail
The Refugee Action Collective will continue to fight for the human rights of asylum-seekers and refugees and calls on the Australian Government to:
- End mandatory detention of asylum seekers that violates their basic human rights and contravenes UN conventions to which Australia is a signatory
- End all offshore processing of asylum seekers; close Manus, Nauru and Christmas Island detention centres
- Abolish Temporary Protection Visas and provide permanent protection to refugees
- Stop looking for other so called solutions on the soil of sovereign states in our neighbourhood
- Cease deporting asylum seekers to countries where they can face persecution, torture and death
- Urgently remove all children from detention together with their parents to enable them to have a normal childhood and education
- Review all ASIO assessments and cease indefinite detention
- Restore appeal rights to the courts for all asylum seekers
- Compensate all who have suffered as a result of their detention enduring physical and psychological harm
- Fully implement all UN conventions that protect the human rights of asylum seekers
- Accept 50,000 refugees per year as a demonstration of Australia’s real capacity to make a difference for those who seek protection
- Decriminalise people smuggling and commit to all treaties dealing with safety of lives at sea.
What does RAC do?
The following are tactics that Refugee Action Collective employs regularly, but we are always keen to try new actions and tactics- creative suggestions are welcome.
- Rallies and vigils are called to galvanise the refugee movement around a particular set of demands, and to publicly demonstrate the growing force of our movement. They aim to be broad but also to deepen the political clarity of the movement. They may be organised in conjunction with other Refugee advocates. RAC organises about three major rallies a year.
- Protests are often called at shorter notice to respond to developments in refugee policy.
- Speak outs are held to inform the public of the abuses and the current laws that violate the human rights of refugees and those of the general public who speak out against the government’s treatment of Asylum Seekers and Refugees.
- Stalls (with council permits where necessary) are set up as frequently as possible (usually twice a week) in the city and suburbs for the distribution of leaflets directly relevant to the refugee cause and the selling of merchandise i.e. T-shirts, badges, and stickers. We test out our arguments, collect names on petitions and contact sheets, build momentum for our activities. Stall holders are encouraged to feed back to the collective about the kinds of discussions and arguments that were had.
- Forums are held regularly to educate supporters and the public and to debate elements of refugee policy. They are key to convincing people to be involved in fighting for refugee rights.
- Networking and supporting other refugee groups. This includes the following:
- Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, unions, the Greens, Labor for Refugees, Friends of MITA, Refugee Action Network, Amnesty, Catholic Refugee Task Force, Grandmothers Against the detention of refugee children.
- Submissions to Government and other bodies (e.g. the International Criminal Court)
- Speakers invited to speak at RAC public events usually donate their time without charge. A donation bucket is circulated at these events; all proceeds are counted, recorded in the minutes at the following RAC meeting and banked by the Treasurer.
To educate the wider public and mobilise them to support the RAC’s work, the RAC uses the following resources which are critical to its work:
- Placards, posters
- Fact sheets, flyers
- PA system
- Stall kits (trestle tables and storage containers)
All resources are paid for by donations collected at RAC events.
Donations are always welcome. You can transfer money to our Westpac account:
If you include your name or another identifier in the transfer and email us separately, we will gladly send you a thank you note acknowledging your donation in reply.
Day-to-day operation of RAC
The Refugee Action Collective meets once a week on Mondays at 6.30pm at Kathleen Syme library in Carlton and on Zoom.
Present at the meetings are:
- The treasurer or assistant treasurer
- Social media administrators
- RAC members and invitees
The social media administrators are elected by the collective and have the discretion to update and maintain the integrity of RAC’s social media. Other members are responsible for maintaining the integrity of RAC’s member data base and updating our contact lists. Other short term responsibilities (e.g. contacting a speaker, investigating a policy, designing a poster) are allocated throughout the meeting.
We have two email lists; one for contacts who want to hear updates and be notified of events, and an organising list for members who want to be involved in decisions and debates about how we respond to different actions.
The meeting minutes are distributed to the RAC member list by the minute-taker, usually within 48 hours.
The treasurer/assistant treasurer provides a weekly report of donations and stall receipts.
The collective will accept agenda topics proposed by RAC members but the priorities on the agenda will be decided by the collective.
When appropriate, sometimes the meeting will divide into working groups who will discuss and plan a project and then report back to the group.
Meeting attendees have the voting rights on any proposals put forward on the agenda, and decisions that must be taken outside of meetings are made as far as possible by consensus over email.
All RAC members have the opportunity and are encouraged to participate and lead in any of the responsibilities. All roles are rotating with the exception of the treasurer.