Rural Australians for Refugees has kicked off the year determined to make a difference to the Bendigo community.
RAR Bendigo chairperson Chris Cummins said the organisation wants to “gently educate” and raise awareness on the current situation for people seeking asylum in Australia.
“There’s still people that are in this relentless state of misery, either detained offshore or dependent on short-term visas where there’s no family reunification or long-term ability to build a new life,” Ms Cummins said.
“We have to recognise that we (Australia) have a global responsibility and we are not measuring up to it.”
RAR Bendigo has been active since 2004 and is part of the Central Victorian Refugee Support Network, which is comprised of all RAR groups from central Victoria.
“It’s not about preaching in any way,” Ms cummins said.
“What we do at our rally is have ‘toot if you give a hoot’ signs and we find there’s so many people that toot, and at last month’s rally there were no negative comments.”
RAR Bendigo currently raises awareness in the local community by holding a monthly rally on the corner of View Street and Rosalind Park.
Ms Cummins said during 2018 RAR is going to push for a change of legislation and to promote the creation of a bill of rights for Australia, something the country is lacking.
“We might feel disheartened when another person dies in detention or when we look at the clock and there are more children growing older and the only life they've known is living behind a fence.”
CVRSN chairperson Jan Govett said she became involved with RAR because of her disbelief in “what the government is doing” to help asylum seekers.
“It’s differentiating between people who come on the humanitarian program and those who come via boat. There’s very few people that come via boat, it’s outrageous that we can’t settle them in Australia,” Ms Govett said.
For more information or if you would like to get involved with RAR please visit www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au/.