Campus Refugee Action Collective Report

CRAC will hold a campus meeting with ex-Manus Island Salvation Army worker and whistle-blower, Nicole Judge (soon to appear on Go back to Where You Came From) on Tuesday, 4th August 1pm, New Law 442

The Abbott Government is attempting to erect an iron curtain of secrecy over Australia’s immigration detention system. The Border Force Act, passed in May with the full support of parliamentary Labor, is a deliberate attempt to silence whistle-blowers who speak out about conditions in the offshore processing centres and prevent media scrutiny of anything to do with immigration detention or Operation Sovereign Borders.

The act carries the threat of a two year jail sentence for anyone working in the centres, affecting medical and welfare workers in particular. It also extends to journalists, who could be punished for obtaining information from detention workers.

But medical workers are not taking this affront lying down. On July 11, around 300 nurses, physiotherapists, doctors and social workers gathered outside Sydney’s Town Hall to protest the new laws and send a message of defiance to the government, joining protests in other cities and towns across the country.

Since the centres on Nauru and Manus Island were opened, a steady stream of workers from the centres have spoken out against conditions in detention and the treatment of asylum seekers, demonstrating that the offshore processing system has been in crisis from the beginning. A senate enquiry into conditions on Nauru has revealed shocking incidents of neglect, self-harm and abuse in the detention centres. These include child sexual assaults, guards trading drugs for sexual favours, and mass suicide pacts. Yet the government refuses to take responsibility for these horrors, and has instead opted to “shoot the messengers”. As long as offshore processing and mandatory detention continue, asylum seekers will be vulnerable to this kind of treatment and harm.

In supporting the Border Force Act, federal Labor has continued in its race to the bottom on refugees with Abbott. Key Labor leaders have now also signalled their willingness to turn back the boats, sending asylum seekers back to danger, in a desperate bid to score electoral points. Bipartisan support for cruelty towards refugees must be broken.

To this end, over the weekend of July 24th, CRAC, along with refugee activists from around Australia, attended a rally outside the ALP national conference in Melbourne, to back Labor4Refugees, encourage more members to join the refugee rights campaign and push open the growing cracks in Labor. The rally was followed by an activist conference to discuss the way forward for the movement on the streets, campuses and in workplaces across the country.

To get involved with CRAC or for more information, call Caitlin 0421 180 853 or Adam 0400 351 694 for more information.

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