Posts for the Ethno Cultural Officers

ACAR Report – Week 2, Sem 2, 2016

Aparna Balakumar, Elizabeth Mora, Lamya Rahman, & Adam Ursino

Hi everyone! We have had a very busy semester break and an exciting start to this semester.

Last Monday, ACAR collaborated with the Philosophy department to organise and deliver a series of talks about damaging imaginaries that intersect experiences including feminism, race and governmentality. The event was a great success and well received by both collective members and the student community in general.

During the winter holidays, two office bearers – Adam Ursino and Lamya Rahman – attended the first ever national ethnocultural conference at the University of Melbourne. We’d like to thank Betty Belay, NUS’s Ethnocultural Officer for organising the conference.
The conference alerted us to the fact that the SRC’s Ethnocultural Department is one of only eight equivalent departments or collectives within the student organisations of Australian universities.

This functions as an inspiring reminder that USyd, in terms of ethnocultural representation, inhabits a space of relative privilege. It’s important for us to use the resources available to us, and our attempts to do that man that we have a very busy semester ahead of us!

Towards the end of semester, we’ll be producing an ACAR edition of Honi Soit, showcasing diverse and traditionally marginalised voices on campus.
While there have been some delays in our communication with the USU, we are in the process of attaining an ethnocultural space! We will continue updating you in the coming weeks, and look forward to holding meetings and other events regularly.
If you’d like to keep up to date with what the collective will be up to this semester, feel free to like our Facebook page (facebook.com/usydacar) or join the ACAR group (facebook.com/groups/168430210190760). Please note that to join the group, you must first be a member of the University of Sydney group.

We hope you have a brilliant start to semester!

Refugee Rights Officer’s Report – Week 4, Sem 1, 2016

The refugee campaign is growing. It’s getting hot. Everyone from students to doctors to teachers to Christians are taking action.

The letthemstay campaign is building up to a potential of a mass direct action campaign to block the refugees from getting deported. Already we have seen a sign of mass industrial action by the doctors and nurses at the Lady Cilentio hospital, to stop baby Asha from getting deported. The churches indicated they will be providing sanctuary to refugees and its congregation is taking physical NVDA (non violent direct action) training anticipating forced deportations. People in their masses are putting their bodies and their potential livelihood on the line, for the refugees. This is where the action is at. This is the movement to be involved in.

But first we have to remember that the #letthemstay movement did not arise out of thin air, but was built on the work of tireless refugee activists who continued to hold forums, stalls and rallies to try and reach out to people who care about refugees like you, and continued to intervene in organizations and its members to take a stand on refugees. And for the movement to go forward, to politicize people, to change public opinion and to force the hand of Turnbull or Shorten (or whoever it doesn’t matter): we need people who care about refugees like you, to join the rest of the members of the Campus Refugee Action Collective (CRAC), to help bring refugee activism to life on our campus.

During O Week we signed up 200 people to our collective and by speaking out about the horrors in Manus and Nauru in Med lecture theatres, facilitated the establishment of a sister USYD Medical Students for Refugees Collective. And together with the Campus Refugee Action Collective (CRAC), they have painted banners together, and marched side by side in the USYD student Palm Sunday rally march contingent that was fifty students big. We will come back onto campus, inspired by the diversity and passion of the masses, to build the refugee movement here at USYD and build our capacity to escalate the fight, for if the government starts deporting the refugees.

If you have been thinking about getting involved in refugee activism, please like the Campus Refugee Action Collective facebook page to stay in touch, and come to CRAC events to join us, because now is the time when you can make a significant difference! Alternatively message us on our facebook page, or contact Steven on 0416 406 900 to find out ways to get involved.

ACAR Report – O-week 2016

Hi there! The Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) is a space for people of colour, Aboriginal/ Torres Strait Islander persons, those from ethnocultural backgrounds, or those marginalised by white supremacy.

As your 2016 ACAR Office Bearers, we’re here to be a point of contact between students and the SRC. Our goal is to represent the voice, greater interest, and desires of the students in our Collective. We’re also here to offer general advice and support to students and groups on campus regarding race, racism, and white privilege.

And, yes, we have a crazy exciting year planned in 2016!

From social gatherings, workshops, activism, festivals, film screenings, and creative opportunities, we are committed to fostering an inclusive space on campus and online where students can come together to meet other like minded-people, while dismantling stereotypes (and having fun!).
In the next few weeks look out for auditions for the inaugural ACAR Revue. This is an opportunity for you to show off your singing, dancing, acting or comedic writing prowess to the student community.  Interested in sketch comedy that challenges and entertains while educating and perplexing the most conservative of audiences? This is for you.

To meet the family, search ‘Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR)’ on Facebook, and come say hello at ‘DIVE-RSITY Ethnocultural Welcome at the Quadrangle (3-5pm Wednesday 24th of February).
As your 2016 ACAR Office Bearers, we’re here to be a point of contact between students and the SRC. Our goal is to represent the voice, greater interest, and desires of the students in our collective. We’re also here to offer general advice and support to students and groups on campus regarding race, racism, and white privilege. Feel free to give us a shout anytime at etho.cultural@src.usyd.edu.au

Wom*n of Colour Report – O-week 2016

Hey all and welcome to semester 1 of 2016, as I write this, I am admiring the t-shirts that have just come in for the Women of Colour Collective, which we will be selling for a gold coin donation that will go towards the Women’s Shelter, Lou’s Place.
The t-shirts look amazing and the stickers are on their way. It has been a bit difficult to get the Women of Colour Collective off the ground and it has been a bit of a teething process, but we are finally moving and doing some great work.

The beginning of the semester has been quite busy, with the Women of Colour collective working collaboratively with the Welfare department to send a USYD contingent to the Health Care Cuts rally, held on the 20th of February 2016 at 1pm.
The Women of Colour Collective will be meeting fortnightly and meetings will be held on Mondays starting in week 2 of semester at 4-5pm in the Women’s room at Manning House.

My aim for this year is to see the Women of Colour collective stand on its own two feet and I look forward to a year of intersectional crusading and feminist ass-kicking.

The Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) Report – O-week

Hi there! The Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) is a space for people of colour, Aboriginal/ Torres Strait Islander persons, those from ethnocultural backgrounds, or those marginalised by white supremacy.

As your 2016 ACAR Office Bearers, we’re here to be a point of contact between students and the SRC. Our goal is to represent the voice, greater interest, and desires of the students in our Collective. We’re also here to offer general advice and support to students and groups on campus regarding race, racism, and white privilege. And, yes, we have a crazy exciting year planned in 2016!

From social gatherings, workshops, activism, festivals, film screenings, and creative opportunities, we are committed to fostering an inclusive space on campus and online where students can come together to meet other like minded-people, while dismantling stereotypes (and having fun!).
In the next few weeks look out for auditions for the inaugural ACAR Revue. This is an opportunity for you to show off your singing, dancing, acting or comedic writing prowess to the student community.  Interested in sketch comedy that challenges and entertains while educating and perplexing the most conservative of audiences? This is for you.

To meet the family, search ‘Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR)’ on Facebook, and come say hello at ‘DIVE-RSITY Ethnocultural Welcome at the Quadrangle (3-5pm Wednesday 24th of February).
As your 2016 ACAR Office Bearers, we’re here to be a point of contact between students and the SRC. Our goal is to represent the voice, greater interest, and desires of the students in our collective. We’re also here to offer general advice and support to students and groups on campus regarding race, racism, and white privilege. Feel free to give us a shout anytime at etho.cultural@src.usyd.edu.au

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.

Autonomous Collective Against Racism – Week 13

Hey friends! Your Ethnic Affairs Office Bearers/Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) Office Bearers here! We’ve had a busy time at ACAR finalising our plans for 2015 and we’ve got some fantastic things in the works!

As mentioned, we are currently assisting the USU in developing their new sensitivity training program so we can ensure that the USU is a welcoming and safe space for all People of Colour (PoC) on campus.

ACAR’s edition for Honi Soit is just around the corner. Look out for editor call outs and submission deadlines on our facebook group as we will be announcing them shortly.

We are also collaborating with the Muslim Wom*ns Collective to support a campaign based around tackling racism and Islamophobia on campus and in wider society.
We have Verge Festival coming up in October this year. We will be organising an autonomous poetry slam event for a non-autonomous audience! If you identify as a PoC, as an individual marignalised by White supremacy or structural oppression, please pen your feels into a poem and prepare to share your heart with us on stage. We’ll be ready with a sign-up sheet and beatnik clicks.

To celebrate the end of the semester, ACAR will be hosting a picnic on the 12th of June. Please come along to enjoy delicious food over great company. Further details will be listed on our facebook group.

Please remember you can contact us on our facebook page – Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) or find us at our regular weekly meetings on Wednesday 12pm at the Education Studio Room 229.

Campus Refugee Action Collective Report

Events of the last few weeks demonstrate the extent to which, if it goes unchallenged, cruel refugee policy will be the bipartisan standard. The Campus Refugee Action Collective (CRAC) held a pro-refugee speak-out outside opposition leader Bill Shorten’s pre-budget address on campus in recent weeks, where we spoke to many attendees, including Labor members, about the need to end offshore processing. After his address however, Shorten made clear that a Labor government in power would be determined to stop the boats. He even refused to rule out boat turn-backs. Shorten uses the same flawed ‘saving lives at sea’ argument as the Liberals. Stopping boats doesn’t save lives, it kills.
Treasurer Joe Hockey seems to think stopping the boats has a somewhat different effect. After the recent budget, Hockey said that the Liberals’ “have stopped the boats…As a result, we are saving more than $500m from closing unnecessary detention centres and…the costs of processing new boat arrivals.” Savings certainly could be made by closing unnecessary detention centres: refugees could be welcomed and processed in the community, saving the government more than $7 billion on offshore detention.

Instead, the Liberals’ real strategy for saving ‘costs’ is to bully and bribe our poorer neighbours. Alongside a coincidental $40 million “aid” packet, Australia has hitched a deal with Cambodia for refugee resettlement. CRAC held a forum on campus last week to expose the true nature of the ‘Cambodia solution’. Cambodia is the 48th poorest nation in the world and has repeatedly refouled refugees– a group of Uighur refugees, from Muslim minority persecuted by Chinese govt. were sent back to China– the next day China handed over $1 billion in aid.

The Cambodia deal is essentially a way for the government to plug up the holes in its offshore processing system which has been in crisis since day one. But the contradictions in the government’s policy are insurmountable – the boats continue to arrive, because asylum seekers are just as desperate now as they were before. We should not be shifting our responsibilities on to desperately poor countries, effectively bribing them to cooperate with Australia to undermine international human rights treaties.

The Campus Refugee Action Collective is campaigning to end offshore processing and mandatory detention. To turn the tide on public opinion and pull down the fences, we need to build the campaign everywhere. We encourage all students to get involved with us – we meet every Monday 11am in the SRC.

Campus Refugee Action Collective

Late March and April saw mass protests demonstrate the depth of community opposition to Abbott’s war on refugees. In Sydney on April 19, around 3000 people energetically mobilized, demanding an end to offshore processing and calling for a humane refugee policy. The Sydney protest came on the heels of a massive pro-refugee mobilization of 15 000 in Melbourne on Palm Sunday.

The protests coincided with yet more revelations about the criminal conditions faced by refugees in Abbott’s offshore camps. In early April an open letter  signed by 24 current and former Save the Children and medical staff revealed that the Immigration Department was aware of women and children being abused on Nauru for 17 months and didn‘t respond.The letter reveals that then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison covered up the abuse and effectively ensured it continued by refusing to act. The letter compounds the findings of the Moss Review that exposed evidence of sexual abuse in the Australian Government run Nauru center.

Along with the protests in Australia, protests by hundreds of refugees on Nauru have rocked the Island throughout the year. A new law decreed on March 23 attempted to restrict the ability of refugees to protest by giving the Nauru Police Commissioner absolute power to ban any demonstration. Refugees have made the law a dead letter by continuing to resist. On April 24, 200 staged a protest against the Australian Government’s attempts to find refugees willing to be dumped in Cambodia. They called for “Justice,” and “Freedom,” and “Cambodia – never, ever.” Peter Dutton has been desperately trying to find refugees who will go along with his “Cambodia Solution” but the exercise has been reduced to a farce.

The damning revelations about conditions on Nauru and the momentum out of the protests in March and April have to be channeled into the July 25 rally outside the Labor national conference in Melbourne. We have to demand a real alternative to Abbott’s brutality and say no to mandatory detention and offshore processing—let them land, let them stay!

Ehnic Affairs Report

Hey friends! Your Ethnic Affairs Office Bearers/Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) Office Bearers here! We’ve had a busy time at ACAR finalizing our plans for 2015 and we’ve got some fantastic things in the works!

As mentioned, we are currently assisting the USU in developing their new sensitivity training program so we can ensure that the USU is a welcoming and safe space for all People of Colour (PoC) on campus.

Many of us continue to attend the Critical Race Discussion Group (CRDG). Let us take this moment to clarify that CRDG isn’t owned or run by ACAR, but we love supporting the group and facilitating students seeking to engage in nuanced critiques and understandings of race.

We are also collaborating with the Muslim Wom*ns Collective to support a campaign based around tackling racism and Islamophobia on campus and in wider society.

Lastly, we have Verge Festival coming up in October this year. We will be organizing an autonomous poetry slam event for a non-autonomous audience! If you identify as a PoC, as an individual marignalised by White supremacy or structural oppression, please pen your feels into a poem and prepare to share your heart with us on stage. We’ll be ready with a sign-up sheet and beatnik clicks.

In more serious news, concerned students have approached us about the state of PoC politics at UNSW. As a result, we’re planning the rollout of a PoC awareness campaign, one in which we hope to work together with UNSW students with the aim to create awareness in university communities of understanding the term “People of Colour” and why autonomous representation is valued and important.

The official government definition of CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) is a problematically homogenizing acronym that fails to distinguish the structural hierarchy of oppression and White supremacy of which manifest in the lived experiences of people of colour.

Please remember you can contact us on our facebook page—Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) or find us at our regular weekly meetings on Wednesday 12pm at the Education Studio Room 229.
Lamisse Hamouda, Eden Caceda, Kavya Kalutantiri and Deeba Binaei