Letter Writing Campaign – Covid19 and Immigration Detention

Materials for Letter Writers (Contacts, Tips, etc.)

Dear RAC letter writers,

While we are all acutely concerned about our own health and well-being and that of our families, we cannot forget the plight of the men, women and children being held in Australian immigration detention. We must take action now and write/call our politicians to demand – again – that the health and safety needs of people in immigration detention be met.

Send a Message using our Online Form

We have created an online form where you can easily send a message to the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton. Add your voice to the call for the government to extend critical financial support to people in Australia on temporary visas.

People in detention facilities most at risk of serious infection of Covid19

The Australian Government Department of Health lists ‘people in detention facilities’ as among those most at risk of serious infection of Covid19. We know that many people being held in immigration detention already have compromised health. Crowded conditions in the centres make social distancing and self-isolation impossible.  The essentials of basic hygiene such as hand washing facilities and hand sanitiser are inadequate. The first case of Covid19 in relation to immigration detention has been confirmed, with a guard working at a community detention facility in Brisbane testing positive for the virus. For more background see here and here.

The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (Asid), the Australian College of Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC) and Doctors for Refugees are calling on the government to release people from closed  immigration detention to prevent the spread of Covid19.  As well, refugees and asylum seekers currently being held in immigration detention across Australia have written to the Prime Minister pleading to be released in light of the increased risk to their health from Covid19.  Please read this article from The Guardian Australia for further background.

Follow this link to sign the petition started by Human Rights for All calling for the immediate release of people being held in onshore immigration detention.

I have not been able to find specific information about this in relation to places of offshore detention. PNG has had its first confirmed case of Covid19 and has declared a national state of emergency. Read more here. Knowing what we do about the very poor health of many people in offshore detention, the unhealthy living conditions and poor medical facilities available to them, we can safely assume that they are also seriously at risk.

Covid19 Income Support Measures should include Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers were not included in the Covid19 income support measures that were recently passed in Parliament. However, the Omnibus legislation was amended to allow the Minister to extend coverage to any group via legislative instrument (which means Parliament will not need to convene for changes to be made). 

Most asylum seekers on bridging visas do not receive any income support. Many are living in poverty in the community. More and more are becoming homeless. 

Write or call your local MPs and federal politicians (or use our online form linked above)

Please join us in appealing to your local MPs, and the key other federal politicians listed below, to extend the Covid19 income support coverage to asylum seekers living in the community. Also make them aware of the serious risk to those in detention and demand that comprehensive action be taken immediately.

** Letters to the Editor are a valuable way to inform the public about issues which might not be getting coverage in the media. They also encourage the newspapers to cover the issue! To send a letter to the Canberra Times via their online form, click here.  

The City News Magazine is also very widely read in Canberra.  You can send a letter via their online form.