15 January 2022

Dear Mr Hawke,

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 Home Affairs, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

The world has certainly noticed your use of your ministerial powers this week to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa and see him detained once again in the Park Hotel. Your reasoning that to do otherwise would be to fuel anti-vaccination sentiment speaks of a deep concern for the health of the Australian community. 

Minister there is another risk to the health of the Australian community which you have the power to heal. The festering wound to which I refer is the continuing and indefinite detention by our government of innocent people. As the 33 men who are Djokovic’s fellow detainees in the Park Hotel look out their windows at the people enjoying their freedom, it is not only the refugees who suffer. To those people who look up at the faces in the window, aware or not of who is detained there, there is a great moral injury in the fact that the government which represents them is inflicting such suffering on people who came here already traumatised, seeking safety and freedom. 

This appalling situation must end, and it would only take a stroke of your powerful pen to do so. We beg you to release these men into the community, and expedite permanent settlement options for them and their friends in detention on- and off-shore.

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Mr Alex Hawke: alex.hawke.mp@aph.gov.au (The Immigration Minister)
You could cc it to

Send the text to the Prime Minister via his website HERE.

8 January 2022

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.

This week, the attention of the world’s media has been on the Park Hotel, because your Department has chosen to detain Novak Djokovic there along with 33 refugees who have been in immigration detention for more than 8 years. No doubt Mr Djokovic is suffering, and his supporters have heard about the bugs in his room and the terrible food. His dream of winning the Australian Open may be jeopardised.

Can you imagine how much worse it is for the 33 men you continue to detain in that facility even though they have spent more than 8 years in some form of immigration detention? These people have dreams as well, which may be less ambitious than Mr Djokovic’s; but you continue to deny them the possibility of pursuing even those modest dreams. Refugee ‘Joy’ writes:

When I came to Christmas Island in 2013 I was young man. I had dreams. I wanted to build up my career. I wanted to make a beautiful family. But my dream never come back. Because everything was ruined and finished. Who can give back my dream? My beautiful Life. And our 9 years. Is there anyone who can give back our 9 years?

Minister, this torture must end. We beg you to find – as a matter of urgent priority – permanent settlement options for these people and others stranded in indefinite detention on- and off-shore, to allow them to begin to heal and to get on with their lives.

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to

Send the text to the Prime Minister via his website HERE.

18 December 2021

Dear Mr Hawke,

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 Home Affairs, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

We welcomed your announcement this week of improvements to the Community Support Program in the form of an expanded cap and reduced costs to community groups. We were also pleased to hear that you will consider making these places additional to the regular intake, and we urge you to follow through on this. We note that Australia’s allocated humanitarian intake of 13,500 was less than half filled last financial year, and so there is room for us to increase the intake of refugees from Afghanistan this year. We beg you to take this opportunity to bring to safety more people who have been friends to Australian forces and diplomats. 

We wish you and your family a safe and restful Christmas. As you prepare for Christmas festivities, please spare a thought for those refugees who languish in detention in places like the Park Hotel in Melbourne, unable to gather with loved ones. There is room at our Christmas tables, and in our hearts, for these people, and we grieve the wasting away of their spirits as they wait for your government’s mercy. Here is a Christmas message for you from inside the Park Hotel.

Eight+ years in arbitrary detention

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

11 December 2021

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.

On Friday the world community celebrated Human Rights Day. We note that your government announced this week a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games, in protest at China’s poor human rights record. Minister, Jesus teaches us to first take the log out of one’s own eye, before attempting to remove the speck from a brother’s eye. We are astonished that your government sees fit to criticise another government on their admittedly egregious human rights violations, while you keep innocent people in indefinite detention on- and off-shore.

Will you listen with an open heart to the pain of one detainee in the Park Hotel, spoken to an assembled crowd on Human Rights Day?

I would like to tell you Australia government: 9 years is enough, please enough is enough. The Australian government torturing us, paid for by your taxes. Please pay attention, coz today is our human rights day. Is there anyone can tell me who can give back our 9 years? When I came to Christmas Island in 2013 I was a young man, I had dreams, I wanted to build up my career. I wanted to make a beautiful family; but my dream never come back. Coz everything was ruined and finished… Who can give back my dream? my beautiful life? our 9 years? Is there anyone who can give back our 9 years? Mr. Morrison government could you please give back our young life, those 9 years. Please tell us. We want those 9 years back. My only demand to the government of this beautiful country was freedom and safety. What we found is that the prison has been torturing us for 9 years, without any reason.

Today we want justice

Please we want help 

Please we want support

Please set us free 

Please we want to be free 

Please we want freedom 

Please open the windows 

Please open the doors …

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

4 December 2021

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 finish the last sitting week of parliament and move into the holiday season, no doubt you are looking forward to  spending time with loved ones. I do hope you will have time to rest and recuperate from a busy year. As you do so, please spare a thought for those people you have detained in immigration detention on-shore, or who languish under Operation Sovereign Borders in Nauru and PNG. They too would like to be spending time with loved ones, rather than with Serco guards. They may have even more need than you to recuperate in the gentle company of friends and family, since for many, the last 8 years have gradually dismantled their spirits, their hope, and their sense of agency. In the words of one psychiatrist who works with refugees and asylum seekers: “They are shattered”. 

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

27 November 2021

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.

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

20 November 2021

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.

We are grateful that 4 more refugees were released into the community from the Park Hotel this week. One of them arrived on Christmas Island when he was 17. He has been held under Operation Sovereign Borders for nearly 9 years, meaning he has not been able to obtain an education or any employment experience, or even learn to drive. Finally release, he has been given 3 week’s accommodation in a Budget Hotel in Ardeer, after which he will receive no Centrelink support. Instead he is expected to find work having never worked in his life and speaking fairly basic English.

Minister we continue to deplore the arbitrary nature of your Department’s treatment of these people. Tax payers have been paying nearly a thousand dollars a day to keep each of them in the Park Hotel for more than 2 years, and now you deprive them of all government financial support? Those left behind in the Park Hotel and other detention facilities continue to suffer because your Department refuses to inform them when, if ever, they will be released. Is this how you would want your loved ones treated if they were forced to flee to another country in search of safety?

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

13 November 2021

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 your government moves into election mode, we expect that your campaign will focus on asking the Australian people to trust your record on economic management. In which case, we submit that one of the facts relating to your portfolio that needs to be foregrounded is the amount of tax-payers’ money you are spending to keep innocent refugees and asylum seekers in captivity off-shore and on-shore under Operation Sovereign Borders. An analysis of your own figures provided to the Senate reveals that the Australian people are paying $4.3 million per person per annum to keep each of 107 refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru. Can you please also make public the amount that is being paid to hotels such as the Park Hotel in Melbourne to incarcerate those brought to Australia under Medevac legislation? I protest in the strongest terms that the money I pay in taxes is being used for these purposes. 

Even more important than the money is the immeasurable cost in human suffering. Can you imagine the desolation of these people, rejected by Australia and yet held by the Australian government in interminable limbo? There is no justification for continuing this expenditure, when other options are available. Will you accept the New Zealand offer to resettle 150 refugees per year, and end this costly torture? 

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

6 November 2021

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.

We do not have a photograph of Mrs Hesari, mother of Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali who self-immolated on Nauru in 2016. But her words pierce their way to any parent’s heart, and we trust to yours:  

We named our baby boy ‘Omid’, which means ‘hope’ in Farsi, because we had beautiful dreams for him. Now all we have is the cold stone of his grave, where he died, lonely and innocent, in a foreign country. Australia has taken our hope, our Omid.

We do, however, have a photograph of Omid. As he looks out at you from the photo, we invite you to meet his gaze with compassion. 

Omid Masoumali

Among Omid’s last words before he set himself alight were these:

You have made our lives miserable and hopeless. I am very tired and exhausted. You have peeled off our skin.

The Queensland coroner this week released his findings into Omid’s death, recommending that Australia “provide more certainty to refugees to ensure those who are successful in their asylum applications are resettled in third countries expeditiously, and that refugees are given some assurance that will be achieved.” The uncertainty around their indefinite detention is slowly killing the spirits of Omid’s fellow detainees. Will you go down in history as the minister who ended this torture?

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

30 October 2021

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.

In his book, ‘After the Tampa’, Afghan refugee Abbas Nazari wrote of how New Zealand provided his family with ‘love, dignity and security’ so that they could rebuild their lives. He has gone on to flourish and become a contributing member of NZ society. What a contrast this is with the way that Australia rejected his boat mates, and then went on to imprison, torture and vilify so many who have bravely undertaken similar journeys in search of safety. 

The refugees and asylum seekers in the Park Prison also yearn for love, dignity and security – basic human needs that we all share. Instead they have suffered prolonged indefinite detention, which in many cases has profoundly damaged their mental health, and your government’s failure to keep them safe from COVID-19. One of these refugees currently infected with COVID-19 in the Park Prison writes the following:

Mr Morrison Government I would like you to imagine what we are in and how we are… Where is your humanity today? We are anxiety about this condition. We are mentally ill. We are physically ill. And we unsafe in this condition. Please and please let us free. We want to be free. Like a member of your parliament. And we want to live like a member of your family. We don’t want to die with COVID-19. 

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.