Who they Are
THE HISTORY OF RAR
RAR began with three depressed people in a lounge room, feeling angry and helpless and saying, 'what can they do?' The answer they came up with was: 'let's work locally'. Three weeks later, after leafletting in the streets and outside the supermarkets, and promotion in the local press and on the radio, they put on a hugely successful public meeting in Bowral, attended by nearly 500 people. they also collected over 400 signatures for an open letter which was published in the local paper, protesting the Government's policies.
After that first meeting they were inundated with supportive emails and phone calls. Since then over eighty RAR groups have formed in country towns all over Australia, and people interested in forming new groups are contacting RAR on a daily basis. RAR is also networking with many other organisations committed to justice for refugees.
While the growth of RAR has been phenomenal, the network remains an informal one. they believe that the more local groups there are working in their own way to promote understanding of refugee issues, the more influence RAR will eventually have in bringing about change.
At the first Bowral meeting they put forward a ten point plan of action. The four main planks, which RAR will campaign for in 2004, are:
- The acceptance of all asylum seekers onto their shores in accordance with Australia's obligations under the UN Convention.
- The closure of the detention camps in their present form.
- The abolition of the inhumane Temporary Protection Visas.
- The doubling of Australia's refugee intake to 24,000 a year.
RAR is a rapidly growing grass-roots movement with enormous potential. they are under no illusions that a change in this country's policies will be quick or easy. But with the hard work and commitment of their nation-wide membership, Rural Australians for Refugees will make a substantial contribution to bringing about a more humane and welcoming policy towards refugees.