The #LetThemStay movement has seen a wave of grassroots action to stop the removal of the 267 asylum seekers. Alongside churches, Victorian Trades Hall declared it will offer sanctuary to the refugees. The pressure saw Victoria’s Labor Premier Daniel Andrews break ranks with Bill Shorten and offer to settle the 267 in Victoria. Other Labor premiers have followed suit. Now health workers at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane are openly defying the federal government by keeping baby Asha in their care until the government undertakes not to send her to Nauru, and instead settles her family in the community where she can be safe and healthy.
Teachers for refugees grows
Last week, teachers in over 70 schools gathered to take group selfies with the slogan “Education Not Detention” and called on Turnbull to #LetThemStay. This movement started with one Melbourne teacher initiating action in December last year. Then 36 schools participated; now the number has doubled and has extended to universities and preschools. The next step is to bring all those who participated to the Palm Sunday rally on March 20th. But the success of Teachers for Refugees shows what every worker can do to build the movement.
Doctors and nurses stand up
The heroic stand of the Lady Cilento Hospital is just the latest example of health workers taking direct action against Australia’s refugee policies. Last year workers at the Children’s Hospital in Melbourne defied the Border Force laws by walking out to show their opposition to the treatment of refugees. Other workers can play a vital role now in organising solidarity actions in support of staff at the Lady Cilento Hospital. This week there is already a protest of health workers in Melbourne and a solidarity action at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
In Brisbane, Queensland Unions and the ACTU have backed the workers and have set up a roster for unionists to have a presence at the ongoing picket.
Scapegoats for government cuts
Across the world, governments demonise refugees wherever they are cutting back jobs and services. In Australia, universities continue to cut courses and staff as the government starves them of funds. Fifty billion dollars has been cut from our hospitals and now the Turnbull government is cutting pathology Medicare bulk-billing incentives. But rather fund health and education properly, both major parties use fear of refugees being a burden on services or taking jobs to justify violating human rights. They have special laws for refugees, and special laws to take away union rights. For too long, Abbott and now Turnbull have used the refuge issue to try and divide us. The racism generated by Australia’s refugee policy affects us all.
Detaining a single asylum seeker on Manus or Nauru costs $400,000 per year. Turnbull pays Transfield/Broadspectrumalmost $2.2 billion dollars a year to run the offshore detention centres. Ending detention could fund the Medicare pathology incentive payments and help fund universities and hospitals.
We need to turn all our hospitals, schools, councils and universities into a political sanctuary for refugees, a grassroots network of people prepared to take action to stop the deportation of those in Australia to Nauru and Manus Island, and to close the camps and bring the refugees here. The actions we’ve seen to #LetThemStay show that every little bit counts. Right now, by refusing to release baby Asha into detention, the staff at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital are defying Turnbull and the Border Force Act. They need our support.
Get active: things you can do
– Organise a group selfie outside your work in support of baby Asha and medical staff at Lady Cilento and to #LetThemStay. Send solidaritymessages to firstname.lastname@example.org
– Set up a refugee support group for your workplace or sector
– Bring a contingent to Palm Sunday rally – 20 March, 1pm, Belmore Park. This is the next major national protest against offshore processing. We need a massive turn-out to show both major parties how deep the support for refugees is.
Special organising meeting for workers
#LetThemStay– getting organised at work
This Sunday 21 Feb 4:30pm
Upstairs, Madison Hotel, 52 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Contact Ian on 0417 275 713
Share the event on Facebook here
Pass this motion at a union or staff meeting, or in your religious or community group:
Let Them Stay!
This meeting of ______________________ notes:
(i) that 267 asylum seekers, including 91 children (37 of whom are babies born in Australia; and 36 at school) are presently in Australia having been brought here by the immigration department from offshore detention centre of Manus Island and Nauru;
(ii) that they were brought for medical attention and mental health treatment that was not available on Nauru or Manus Island;
(iii) that they have spent around two years in detention and have not been processed;
(iv) that the detrimental effects of long term detention are well known for both children and adults;
(v) that Nauru and Manus Island are not safe for asylum seekers or refugees;
(vi) that five state and territory leaders, including Labor leaders in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia have called on the Turnbull government not to return the 267 to Nauru;
We further note that the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton has stated that he expects this group of asylum seekers including the 91 children may soon be sent back to Nauru.
We therefore declare our complete opposition to any asylum seeker, or refugee, presently in Australia being sent to Nauru or Manus Island;
(i) call on the government not to detain any asylum seeker or refugee to Manus Island or Nauru;
(ii) call on the state government to not cooperate with any attempt by the Federal government to return any of the 267 to Nauru;
(iii) will provide all appropriate moral, financial and material support for the campaign by community and refugee advocacy groups to prevent asylum seekers being returned to Manus Island and Nauru
(iv) call for the end of mandatory detention and the closure of all detention centres.