Information about Rural Australians For Refugees


Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) began in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales in October 2001. We are an informal group of concerned citizens working hard to turn this country away from an inhumane and bizarre policy. Anne Coombs one of the founders of RAR has written an excellent article entitled Mobilising Rural Australia, published in the Autumn edition of the Griffith Review - A must read for anyone wanting an overview and history of this dynamic network.

There are over ninety RAR groups throughout Australia reaching out to approximately 15,000 members and friends and they're still growing strong. The basis of Their charter is a 10 Point Plan, which since 2002 has represented Their specific goals. RAR has recommitted to the ten point plan at the 2005 RAR National Conference

Know the Facts


The Facts

  • Australia receives very few asylum seekers compared to other countries. The number of unauthorised arrivals has never been much more than 4000 in any one year. Sweden, with about half Their population, receives a similar number. Iran and Pakistan, two of the world's poorest countries, each host over a million Afghan refugees.
  • No other country has non-reviewable mandatory detention of asylum seekers. In Australia they are placed indefinitely in detention camps with limited access to services; in most other Western countries they live in the community while their applications are being processed. For example, in Sweden they are allowed out of detention as soon as they have gone through identification and criminal screening.
  • Australia's annual quota of refugees is only 12,000. And most years they don't even manage to fill that. This is minuscule compared with the numbers other countries take.
  • they treat children like criminals. Children are not exempt from mandatory detention in Australia. Some have been imprisoned for years. In Sweden the maximum time a child is kept in custody is six days.
  • 60% of refugees are victims of torture or severe trauma. But in Australia they are treated like criminals rather than ordinary people fleeing persecution.


  • Anyone can be a refugee. Boat people are ordinary men and women, many of them urban professionals, who are fleeing their countries because of war or persecution.
  • Most asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iraq are legitimate. 93% of Afghans and 97% of Iraqis are found to be genuine refugees.
  • Boat people are not illegal. Under the UN Refugee Convention, which has applied for fifty years, Australia has an obligation to take in asylum seekers and assess their claims. They are in a totally different category from immigrants. The real 'illegals' are the 14,000 Britons or Americans caught each year for overstaying their visas.
  • There is no queue to jump. Australia has no embassy in Iraq or Afghanistan for people to apply to for a visa. In overseas refugee camps there is frequently no resettlement process available. Where one exists it is often ad hoc, agonisingly slow and corrupt.


  • Number of Refugees and Asylum Seekers Worldwide in 2000. 14,500,000 people (World Refugee Survey 2001, U.S. Committee for Refugees)

  • In the three year period from July 1999 to June 2002 some 9,160 unauthorised boat arrivals, mainly from Afghanistan and Iraq, applied for Protection visas within Australia's migration zone. of these over 90% were found to be genuine refugees (source Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) 2002 -2003 Annual Report)
  • Number of Children and Adults in Australian Detention Centres as at 11 Feb 2004. At least 174 children in detention and approximately 977 Adults A further 277 asylum seekers are detained on Nauru. (These figures are based on DIMIA statistics as at Februaru 11, 2004 and the Senate Estimates report, February 2004).
  • Numbers of People Estimated as Illegally Overstaying Visa's as Compared to Unauthorised Arrivals. (These figures are based on DIMIA statistics as at30 June 2003)
    • Illegal Overstayers: 59,800 (as of July 2003, 20% of all overstayers came from either the UK or the US)
    • Unauthorised Arrivals: 1,277 people arrived on seven boats for the year ending June 2002 (ie., approx 2% of Illegal Overstayers !!!)


  • Many of the 'boatpeople' from Afghanistan and Iraq have fled the very regimes Their Government has condemned and been prepared to go to war over. Asylum seekers see Australia as a safe and democratic country in which they hope to have a far better future.
  • Injury claims and compensation with the UK based accident claims solicitors.

After World War II the Snowy Mountains Scheme was built largely with the labour of thousands of refugees. Let us again give refugees a chance to contribute to this country in the twenty first century. Let's give them a fair go!