Imagine a lifelong quarantine.
We have all felt the effects of the COVID-19 quarantine on our mental and physical health. This is that on steroids. The 120 men at the Kangaroo Point ̶C̶e̶n̶t̶r̶a̶l̶ ̶H̶o̶t̶e̶l̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶A̶p̶a̶r̶t̶m̶e̶n̶t̶s̶ Prison have been isolated to hotel rooms for 8 months now - and they aren't granted the luxuries we were. No exercise. No community. No legitimate access to mental or physical health resources.
The establishment of the blockade.
Our blockade was established spontaneously on Thursday night following the attempted forced transfer of Farhad Rahmati into high security detention. Fahrad is a popular and vocal refugee who spread awareness of their situation and his forced transfer shows the government's intention to silence those voices - ensuring they are out of sight and out of the minds of the mainstream media and public. We are occupying Main St, Lockerbie St and Walmsley St surrounding the facility 24 hours, 7 days a week - ready to block vans leaving the compound to prevent the removal of more refugees.
The situation now.
We have been overwhelmed by community support from all facets of life - unions, students, political groups, mothers, teachers, working professionals, activists, local businesses, religious organisations. The support bolsters and inspires us - however we are lacking key resources that will greatly assist the campaign. We have costs here on the ground to meet to ensure our blockade is efficient and as well prepared as possible.
We aim to involve community, host BBQ's, invite musicians, begin information workshops and skills training. These all have associated costs and, despite the huge support, we are falling short. We aim to rent toilets and shower facilities, sanitation gear, speakers, organisational software, radios, first aid equipment and other necessary infastructure and supplies. These will keep us and the community safe during the ongoing COVID-19 challenge and reduce disturbances to the local community.
Your help is critical to ensuring we can stand up against the systematic human rights abuses taking place in Kangaroo Point, Meanjin/Brisbane.
The Australian Government is the only one in the world that supports indefinite detention. They are in direct violation of our legal and moral obligations outlined as a signatory on the UN Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the policies outlined by the Australian Human Rights Commission:
Australia's international human rights obligations require that all refugees and people seeking asylum are treated humanely and with respect for their inherent dignity, regardless of their mode of arrival in Australia.
1. Free movement out of the complex.
2. End to involuntary transfers.
3. Full release into the community.
How you can help.
We understand everyone has a unique ability to contribute and any change you can send our way will be enormously helpful. These costs will be only used to support the blockade, aid the refugees, liase with community, and to provide a space which is safe and peaceful to all involved. Our activists are also facing potential legal costs - this would be used to assist there is necessary.
Please give whatever you can - $50, $20, $10, $5, $2 - whatever you have the capacity to give. It is all enormously helpful. A detailed summary regarding the allocation of these funds can be found below.
The other resource of which we are short - hands on the ground. If you are in the area, please do drop in. Inform yourself, meet us, spread the word, rally support where possible. The more hands on the ground the better - consider signing up for a shift. We are constantly talking, educating and collaborating. It is an absolutely inspiring place to be right now - and we would love you to be part of it.
We acknowledge that we are gathering on the stolen lands of the Jagera and Turrbal people and pay respects to their elders - past, present and emerging. Their sovereignty was never ceded.
10% of all donations will be used to help pay rent to First Nations community groups.
Here are some facts and information regarding the context of how these men came to be inprisoned at Kangaroo Point.
WHY IS THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT DETAINING MEN IN A HOTEL IN KANGAROO POINT?
There are about 110 men in the Kangaroo Point hotel. They come from a range of countries such as Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma and more. The majority have been found to be genuine refugees and owed protection; others are asylum seekers, some of them have not even had refugee assessments after seven years. They were processed under the law of Nauru or PNG where they were formerly detained.
The men have been transferred to Australia for complex medical reasons that health services on Nauru and PNG could not handle such as; diabetes, asthma, kidney and heart conditions. Many also have severe mental health problems brought on by previous trauma and six years of detention on Nauru and PNG. What treatment they are receiving in Australia for these conditions is very rudimentary. It is impossible to treat mental health problems in detention. In 2010 one of Australia's leading mental health experts, Professor Patrick McGorry, described Australia’s immigration detention centres as “factories for producing mental illness and mental disorder.”
The Australian government says it will not allow them to settle in Australia because they arrived by boat after 19 July 2013 and were sent offshore to Nauru or Manus Island (PNG). If found to be a refugee they are meant to find a third country to be settled in. The Australian government vows it will ‘never’ allow them to be settled in Australia. New Zealand has offered to settle 150 a year but Australia rejects this saying it will be a ‘backdoor’ into Australia. The only third country to take significant numbers is the USA. But even if the USA quota of 1250 refugees is ever filled, hundreds of refugees will be left living in limbo.
Once medical evacuees from PNG and Nauru are transferred to Australia legal action prevents them from being sent back. This is why the government has fought so hard to prevent medical transfers. In 2014 Hamid Khazaei died from septicemia after a immigration official overruled a doctor’s recommendation that he be “urgently” evacuated to Australia. Kerryn Phelps’ Medical Evacuation bill supported by the Labor Party and the Greens for a short time put the decisions about medical evacuations into the hands of doctors, but the re-elected Morrison government immediately scrapped this bill in 2019.
Until about a year ago medical evacuees would have been allowed to live in the community in what they call 'community detention'. There are now about 1200 medical evacuees who once lived on Nauru or PNG living in Australia in ‘community detention’. All the children who once lived on Nauru who didn’t go to the USA are living in the community in ‘community detention’ with their families. Saif Ali is a refugee from Nauru and is being held in Kangaroo Point, but his wife and son were earlier medically evacuated from Nauru and are now in ‘community detention’.
People living in ‘community detention’ have no work rights; must live in a house provided by the government and are given a small allowance. If you have children, they are allowed to attend school but not tertiary institutions. There are plenty of problems with ‘community detention’ but it is better than closed detention in a hotel or a detention centre.
So why aren’t these men in ‘community detention’?
About a year ago, as the government aggressively campaigned to repeal the Medevac Bill, the Australian government stopped moving medical evacuees into ‘community detention’. It was a vindictive policy by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to punish refugees. Instead of ‘community detention’ the medical evacuees were warehoused in hotels and detention centres across Australia. There are now about 200 being held - 110 in the Kangaroo Point hotel, 60 in the Mantra hotel in Melbourne and rest in detention centres, mostly in Brisbane and Melbourne.
Some have been detained in the Kangaroo Point hotel for a year or more. They used to be allowed visitors or to use the gym at the Brisbane detention centre but this stopped with the covid crisis. Inside the hotel it is impossible to safely socially distance and over a thousand doctors signed a letter saying detainees should be released into the community.
Many people complain about being quarantined in a hotel for two weeks because of covid, imagine escaping persecution and war, being separated from families, being detained into offshore detention hellhole for six years and then in a hotel for a year or more and not knowing when this torture will end? Will they be detained for another seven years?
They should never have been sent to Manus and Nauru. The Refugee Action Collective and Refugee Solidarity Meanjin/Brisbane are calling for their immediate release. Refugee lives matter.
Banner Photo Credit: Vincent A Railton
Film Credit: Jamie Landsberg Films
Allocation of funds from this campaign.
As of the 24/06, we are a 12 person team handling this crowdfunder and ensuring the funds will be used with complete transparency and accountability. This team is diverse and is represented by members who are indigenous, queer, of mixed gender and of different physical ability.
Meetings are transparent and always accessible via secure teleconference for those who physically can't attend.
If you have a question regarding the use of these funds please email us at email@example.com - we welcome all constructive discourse regarding the crowdfunding money. If you feel you can assist us in the finance team, please email the firstname.lastname@example.org email or visit us at the blockade.
None of the money will be used for the comfort/personal use of the protesters at the blockade - this will be instead sourced from help of the local community or actioned ourselves.
1. Allocation of Funds
2. Decision Making Process
3. Pay the Rent
4. The conclusion of the blockade.
**** ALLOCATION OF FUNDS ****
1. Legal and Fines
i. Money can used towards paying fines – however this is a last resort. Fines must first be challenged in every way possible and contested.
ii. Those who are financially unable to pay or for other reasons require assistance the chuffed money can be used to pay this. This decision will be made via the finance team unless it is over the $200 limit, in which case it will be a collective decision from those at the blockade.
2. Fundraising and Promotion.
i. Certain funds will be used to push the chuffed campaign.
ii. Chuffed charges us $300 to promote our cause but if the revenue we earn from this does not exceed $300 we will not be charged. This is no risk advertising and has been actioned by the Finance Team.
i. Static supplies and costs – purchase of equipment for first aid kids/medics.
ii. Medical costs if necessary for those injured while at the blockade.
iii. Ongoing medical costs.
a. Trauma and physical injury that are serious enough to require ongoing financial support to be raised with the legal team before allocating chuffed funds.
i. Material stuff which is necessary for the running of the blockade – for instance.
a. Radios, Batteries, Tables, Charging Cables, Tarps, Power leads/extension boards/zip ties.
b. Rental costs for necessary equipment and space.
5. Community Engagement.
a. Outreach Costs – printing costs, etc.
b. Art Supplies.
c. Music Costs.
d. BBQ’s etc.
6. Other/Petty Cash.
a. Miscellaneous things that don’t fit into another category.
7. Refugee related expenses
a. Money spent directly to aid refugees. The refugees inside Kangaroo Point have explicitly stated they do not want the money from this campaign spent on them - however occasionally the crowdfunding funds can be used when necessary.
For instance, a refugee's phone was destroyed by police. Money from this campaign could be used to supply him with a cheap smartphone and phone credit.
**** DECISION MAKING PROCESS ****
1.a. All purchases under $200 can be approved by the finance team without collective approval. This process is outlined under 2).
1.b. The $200 dollar amount was polled upon via telegram polls accessible to all in the blockade and as of 16hr runtime stands at 39 in support and 0 against. This will be locked in after 24hours.
2.a. Larger purchases over $200 will require collective approval of the blockade to be authorised. This will take place in the form of a telegram poll that is accessible on mobile by all in the blockade.
2.b. This poll will run for a period of 24hours with updates posted at 16hrs and 8hrs and approved or denied according to the outcome of the poll. Any dissent regarding a particular transaction should be raised to the finance team within that time.
2.c.a. If there is strong dissent to a particular transaction it can be raised following the closure of the poll - however funds may be allocated at the end of the 24 hours and the ability to recall those funds may be limited.
3. Purchases from blockade members which require reimbursement MUST be first raised with the finance team. Reimbursement is not a guarentee and members cannot expect to be reimbursed for supplies they purchase. This is to avoid unnecessary spending and use of the funds unless critical to the blockade.
**** PAY THE RENT ****
1. We recognise the Turrbal and Jagera people as the traditional owners of the land upon which we gather and commit 10% of all donated funds to assist in paying the rent of first nations communities.
2. This will paid out either quarterly or at the end of the blockade, whichever comes first.
**** BLOCKADE CONCLUSION ****
1. Should there be leftover money from this campaign at the end of the blockade, this team will be responsible for engaging the collective to determine where the funds will go. At this stage it will likely be donated towards existing refugee support networks and to existing refugees in the community that are struggling financially.
2. Leftover items that have been purchased using these funds at the end of the blockade will also be discussed collectively whether they are sold or used within the larger community. Examples of items are tarps, gazebos, generators, electrical cables etc.
Banner Photo Credit: Vincent A Railton
Film Credit: Jamie Landsberg Films