The following was sent to RAC’s letter writing network last week. Eileen, who coordinates the letter writing campaign, develops fantastic resources such as these that are valuable to everyone involved in RAC and refugee advocacy, and we will be publishing them here on the website more regularly. To receive Eileen’s emails in your inbox, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear RAC Letter writers,
Throughout last week the Canberra Times continued to publish letters about the recent Parliament House protests, with a few being from RAC members. A big ‘Thank You’ to those of you who submitted letters. While it’s unlikely they will publish any more letters on that subject, you might find this article from the Guardian Australia useful in finding ways to respond to people who condemn the protests.
There are two other stories we could be following and responding to in our letters at this time. The first is the resettlement deal with the USA for people on Manus and Nauru. The Australian Government is still being secretive about any details of the deal. There are many serious questions needing answers, some of which are outlined in this media release from the Refugee Council of Australia.
The other important story is the coronial inquest being conducted in Brisbane into the death of Manus Island detainee Hamad Kehazaei. I have seen little or no coverage of this story in any Australian media apart from the Guardian. (but I hasten to say I have not done a thorough search). Journalist Ben Doherty has written an excellent summary of the inquest proceedings to date. The new evidence about the details of Kehazaei days of suffering and death is deeply disturbing, revealing not only the terrible pain endured for days by this very ill young man, but also the anguish of the medical staff whose advice to the Immigration Department was repeatedly either ignored or refused. The testimony of Immigration Department officials is utterly chilling in the degree to which it reveals a bureaucratic system of mindless adherence to policy and political imperatives, and seemingly no sense of moral responsibility for the well being of the people in their care.
Words that Work – a useful resource for letter writers
Last year, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in Melbourne commissioned a research project to determine and test the most effective ways to argue the case for humane treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum. The resulting report, “Words that Work”, identifies what language is likely to be most effective in ‘winning the hearts and minds’ of Australians, and outlines the basic messaging principles that should be used. A summary of that report can be found here, while a fuller description of the project can be found here, on the ASRC website.