Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) – Bendigo put on a fantastic day yesterday sharing stories of refugees who have come to Australia and what they have contributed to our wonderful country. We were treated to music and dance of the Karen culture (from the Burmese border), art and photographic exhibitions, and much more.
Najaf Mazari‘s talk in the afternoon gave us some small understanding of what it might be like to be fleeing torture and possible death (we could never understand if we hadn’t experienced it ourselves), and how he has embraced Australia as his second home with his beautiful wife and daughter. Then Julian Burnside provided an alternative to our current policy that is humane, significantly more cost effective, and beneficial to rural and regional communities. He opened it up to us to work out the finer details, and I look forward to seeing what can come out of it.
The Pledge to Asylum Seekers was there too, and we have 70 new Pledgers from the day!
The response to the Pledge was so inspiring – I met people who had already signed the Pledge, beautiful friends of friends from around the state, and individuals all doing what they can to make a difference, end offshore detention, and directly support those both in onshore detention and in community detention. I’m so proud to meet these people and know there are so many others out there.
I’ll share stories as they come in, but I know from yesterday there’s movement to start new RAR groups in other regional towns, more teachers will be taking the Pledge into schools, and many are deciding on the next step they’re going to take, now they understand a little more about the issue.