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There are two email actions below that you can take.

  • The first email action is below: Don’t let immigration detention centres become hotspots for COVID-19  
  • Click here for the second email action or scroll down further. COVID-19 crisis – Refugees and people seeking asylum need income support – just like everyone else

See list of contacts for Premiers and key ministers at the bottom of this page and also here:

First Email Action – COVID-19

Thanks to Canberra Refugee Action Coalition for sharing this video. 

Please take URGENT ACTION:  Email your Premier and Health Minister – COVID-19: people in detention are at high risk of infection

Dear advocates and supporters of refugees 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

This is a difficult time when health is a major concern for us all.  With no vaccine available, we are all very aware of the advice of medical experts – that social distancing and social isolation are essential across the community to stop the spread of this highly infectious and potentially deadly virus.  The situation is so serious that social distancing is now legally enforceable.  

Adherence to the public health measures will protect everybody.  As you know, over 1400 people are held in immigration detention, and a significant number of these people are refugees and people seeking asylum. 

Experts are calling for the release of detainees:  

·       Nearly 1200 doctors  have called for the immediate release of people from detention  have called for the immediate release of people from detention: 

‘…Transmission of COVID-19 in institutions is a significant risk. Detainees are held in relatively crowded conditions, made worse by communal meal and activity arrangements in the hotels and detention centres….. Detention conditions in Australia would likely lead to rapid spread, posing a risk to guards and thence to the rest of the Australian community. ……… Failure to take action to release people seeking asylum and refugees from detention will not only put them at greater risk of infection (and possibly death), it also risks placing a greater burden on wider Australian society and the health care system’

·       Experts in the control of infection diseases   have also called for the release of detainees to reduce this very high risk of infection for detainees and workers. 

·       An Open Letter (below) urging the Australian Government to move people urgently out of closed immigration detention, including ‘alternative places of detention’ has been released jointly by Academics for Refugees, Doctors for Refugees, and Librarians for Refugees.  Please sign on to the letter if you are an academic, doctor or librarian.

·       Human Rights Watch has released a statement calling for release of detainees most at risk.

News Articles:   Moz, detainee in  Mantra Hotel in Melbourne Detainee fears COVID-19 infection and The Guardian article Detainees write to PM re risk from COVID-19 and Refugees need protection from Coronavirus too and must be released.

Video clip by human rights lawyer Alison Battison  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uWG1NJWY98

YOU CAN HELP – DO IT NOW!

We encourage you to sign TWO online petitions    Amnesty petition for release of refugees    and   Safer at Home Petition

EMAIL AND PHONE KEY DECISION-MAKERS  

We ask you to urgently email:

·       The Federal Minister for Health    Minister.Hunt@health.gov.au     Tel: 02 6277 7220

Please also take a few minutes to call their offices.  The more people who call and email – the more likely WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE on this IMPORTANT ISSUE.  

Sample email 

Subject line:  Don’t let immigration detention centres become hotspots for COVID-19  

Dear Minister XXXX / Dear Premier XXXX / Chief Medical Officer      

I am writing to draw your attention to several calls for urgent action from to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in immigration detention centres, the risk this poses to detainees(many of whom are in poor health) and staff, and the resulting risk to the general community.  

Nearly 1200 doctorsExperts in the control of infection diseasesHuman Rights Watch , and Academics are all calling for the release of people from detention in line with the radical protective measures already implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19.  It is critical to address the risk of infection within the crowded places of detention, and in turn reduce the risk to the community.  

I am especially concerned about the risk of infection for people seeking asylum and refugees held in immigration detention, as many of these people are in poor health, having been held in detention for long periods.  Detainees are ‘terrified’ that they will contract COVID-19:  Detainees write to PM re risk from COVID-19.   Around the world governments are taking action to prevent the rapid spread of infection in places of detention by releasing people to the community wherever possible.  These people do not pose a risk to the community, and the major agencies supporting asylum seekers and other welfare organisations have all indicated they would house and support people released from detention.

We must not overlook this vulnerable group in our community in the implementation of further measures to protect the health of our community. 

Act now to protect this vulnerable group, and minimise the risk to the wider community. 

Yours sincerely 

(name) 

(Address)

.

.

.

.

Second Email Action – Income Support

Thanks to Canberra Refugee Action Coalition for sharing this video.

COVID-19 crisis – People seeking asylum need income support – just like everyone else.

CALLING ON YOU to email politicians URGENTLY about this important issue 

Background Information for letter-writers

·         Given their temporary and insecure visa status, many people on Bridging Visas are not able to find secure work – in the current COVID-19 crisis most of those who did have casual work or part-time work are now unemployed.  

·         People seeking asylum are not currently included in the income support arrangements that have been put in place as a COVID-19 crisis response.  

·         Without income support people cannot pay their rent or feed their families and must rely on charity and the goodwill of Australians for rent, food and healthcare to survive. 

·         Charity organisations and local community groups will be overwhelmed in the coming weeks and months due to COVID-19 economic and health impacts.

·         The Federal Government has rightly responded to the COVID-19 economic crisis by providing income support for people who have no income –people seeking asylum must be included.   

Please note that this is focussed on people seeking asylum – people recognised as refugees on TPVs, SHEVs and Permanent Visas are eligible for the equivalent of Job Seeker payments – people on Bridging Visas are not eligible.    See Factsheet: Not all people on temporary visas can return home.

Also see article in The Guardian on Asylum Seekers slip through Australia’s Coronavirus Safety Net. A pdf copy of the article is below

This is very important – we must make every effort to ensure that all refugees and people seeking asylum have income support.   

Please:

  • Email and phone relevant politicians.  IMPORTANT:  This approach is intended to generate pressure for change through the National COVID cabinet – to overturn the current  ‘destitution policy’ favoured by Minister Dutton and  PM Scott Morrison.  
  • Email your local MP
  • Email the Premier of your state
  • Email Sally McManus – Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions
  1. Email all relevant federal Ministers including Shadow Ministers by copying all of the email addresses into the Bcc window (click on To and you will see the Bcc window).  Once you have emailed, you might also call the Ministers’ officers (see numbers below)

SAMPLE EMAIL 

To

Cc

Bcc: senator.ruston@aph.gov.au
Josh.Frydenberg.MP@aph.gov.au
Alan.Tudge.MP@aph.gov.au;
Jason.Wood.MP@aph.gov.au
David.Coleman.MP@aph.gov.au
Michelle.Landry.MP@aph.gov.au
Luke.Howarth.MP@aph.gov.au
A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au
Richard.Marles.MP@aph.gov.au;
Chris.Bowen.MP@aph.gov.au
senator.keneally@aph.gov.au
Linda.Burney.MP@aph.gov.au
Jason.Clare.MP@aph.gov.au;

SUBJECT:   COVID-19 crisis – People seeking asylum need income support – just like everyone else.

Dear Minister

Approximately 37,000  people are currently on Bridging Visas awaiting decisions on their application for protection visas.

Many of these people have been supporting themselves in casual insecure work such as hospitality, construction, uber driving etc. and like so many others, many have recently lost this employment.  As well, some people have never been able to secure employment, while some have never had the right to work.   

None of these people currently have access to Centrelink payments.

Like anyone else, people seeking asylum need basic income support so they can pay their rent and feed their families – without access to basic income individuals and families are becoming homeless and destitute.  While charities are doing their best to help, the scale of this situation is beyond their capacity.

Please act decisively to ensure that these people and families have access to income support.  Like us all these people are anxious about the COVID-19 risk, and we need to ensure that they can feel secure about maintaining their housing and capacity to cover essential living expenses. 

No-one should be left without income support at this time – COVID-19 does not discriminate, and nor should we.

Yours sincerely,

Name

Address 

  1. Tweak and send  your email to your local federal MP  Find your local MP here   
  1. Email the Premier in your state and encourage them to use their influence in the national COVID-19 cabinet.  The states have an interest in persuading the federal government to provide income support for refugees and people seeking asylum – state governments should not be expected to fill the gap (though Victoria and Queensland did provide some funds in 2019).  Social security and income support is a federal responsibility.  

SUBJECT:   COVID-19 crisis – People seeking asylum need income support – just like everyone else.

Dear Premier XXXXX

Approximately 37,000  people are currently on Bridging Visas awaiting decisions on their application for protection visas.

Many of these people have been supporting themselves in casual insecure work such as hospitality, construction, uber driving etc. and like so many others, many have recently lost this employment.  As well, some people have never been able to secure employment, while some have never had the right to work.   

None of these people currently have access to Centrelink payments.

Like anyone else, people seeking asylum need basic income support so they can pay their rent and feed their families – without access to basic income individuals and families are becoming homeless and destitute.  While charities are doing their best to help, the scale of this situation is beyond their capacity. Include here any examples if your community group is assisting refugees financially  (respect privacy and do not use names)  

Please act decisively to ensure that these people and families have access to income support.  Like us all these people are anxious about the COVID-19 risk, and we need to ensure that they can feel secure about maintaining their housing and capacity to cover essential living expenses.    

No-one should be left without income support at this time – COVID-19 does not discriminate, and nor should we.

Yours sincerely,

Name

Address 

STATE PREMIERS  
Premier of New South WalesHon. Gladys Berejiklian https://www.nsw.gov.au/contact-us/contact-the-premier/
Premier of VictoriaHon. Daniel Andrews(03) 9651 5000daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au 
Premier of QueenslandHon. Annastacia Palaszczuk (07) 3719 7000thepremier@premiers.qld.gov.au
Premier of South AustraliaHon. Stephen Marshall(08) 8429 3232premier@sa.gov.au
Premier of TasmaniaHon. Peter Gutwein peter.gutwein@parliament.tas.gov.au
Premier of Western AustraliaHon. Mark McGowan(08) 6552-5000wa-government@dpc.wa.gov.au
Chief Minister of the NTHon. Michael Gunner(08) 8936 5500chief.minister@nt.gov.au
Hon. Andrew BarrChief Minister of the ACT                                             13 22 81barr@act.gov.au 
Government MinistersPhone 
Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services (02) 6277 7560
The Hon Josh Frydenberg, Federal Treasurer(02) 6277 7920
The Hon Alan Tudge, Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure(02) 6277 7200
The Hon Jason Wood, Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs(02) 6277 4982
The Hon David Coleman, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs(02) 6277 4188
The Hon Michelle Landry, Assistant Minister for Children and Families(02) 6277 4373
The Hon Luke Howarth, Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services(02) 6277 4018
Opposition Shadow Ministers 
Hon Anthony Albanese, Leader of the Opposition(02) 6277 4664
Hon Richard Marles, Deputy Leader of the Opposition(02) 6277 4330
The Hon Chris Bowen, Shadow Treasurer(02) 6277 4822
Senator the Hon Kristina Keneally, Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship(02) 9891 9139
Hon Linda Burney    Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services(02) 6277 4623
Hon Jason Clare    Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness(02) 6277 4904