Dear Ms Andrews,
I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. I live in the electorate of ***. We have committed to writing a letter to your government every week until all refugees and asylum-seekers who remain on Nauru and in PNG under Operation Sovereign Borders are appropriately re-settled. We also seek humane treatment for refugees and asylum seekers on-shore. We are copying this letter to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Immigration, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.
As you know, regarding those refugees who your department has released some into community, some have been released into ‘community detention’ without work rights, others have been given bridging visas with work rights. In line with your Department’s apparent policy of intentional disempowerment, there has been no explanation given to them about the reason for the different treatment. But you may not be aware how these people are spending their time. In general, they are gathering with their friends and supporters, at last able to surround themselves with caring people and to build relationships of support. (Unfortunately your department has signalled its intention to move many of those interstate, so they will soon need to begin all over again). They are all looking for ways to contribute to our society. Some of those unable to work are spending a lot of time at the gym to fill in time, but are also offering their services for free to anyone who needs it, with household maintenance or gardening or other jobs. Those newly released with work rights are looking for work and accommodation. All of them have mixed feelings about their freedom, because they grieve for their brothers still in detention. They do what they can to support them.
Minister, there has not been a public backlash against your government for releasing these refugees. Can you please explain why your department has deemed it necessary to continue to detain their friends in conditions that they experience as ‘torture’, gradually dismantling their wellbeing and exposing those in the Park Hotel to COVID-19? Why is this necessary when there is room for them in the Australian community and the hearts of the Australian people? We would appreciate a reply to this specific question, but please do not cite border control, as no-one believes that the continued persecution of these people – now for over 8 years – achieves anything for national security.
Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: firstname.lastname@example.org (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: email@example.com (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.