Friday, March 5, 2010

Proposal to revise & relaunch Refugee Welcome Towns Declaration

Invitation to attend a TAmil refugee support address to Lake Macquarie City Council, please circulate:-

Proposal to launch revised Refugee Welcome City Declaration

Address to Lake Macquarie City Council
Council Meeting Monday 8 March 2010 at 7.00 pm
126–138 Main Road, Speers Point, (02 4921 0333)
Dear Councillors,

I ask for your interest and support re the following brief for public access application (currently being processed):

"Reaffirming LMCC Declaration (2002) of Lake Macquarie as a Refugee Welcome City

1. We are seeing the divisive refugee race-card being played again- each major party vying to be meaner than the other, this is against a back-ground of media fuelled racism. We had a flurry of this in 2004. It subsided as civic & political groups took action- eg Refugee Welcome Town, rallies & public meetings.

Recent attacks on international students here means our communities are at risk of falling prey to racism. No council wants that. Understanding the issues surrounding refugees is important in preparing for them. If the community is starting to self-organise itself towards this, then its only sensible for council to be aware of and facilitate it.

2. Changes to the LGA councils’ charter require them to show community leadership, actively promote the principles of multiculturalism, social justice and engage in long-term strategic planning. Recalling and reflecting on the significance of refugees to Australia, and reaffirming the Refugee Welcome Town Declaration of LMCC in 2002 is a valid application of the charter.

The Newcastle No War Collective is a group of people from across the social, political and economic spectrum, who meet occasionally to plan and carry out actions such as public meetings and rallies opposed to militarism.


What do we want the council to do about it?

1. Revise the original Refugee Welcome City Declaration. Reaffirm it as a symbolic gesture and deepen our commitment to it in practice.

2. Support the proposed relaunch of the revised Refugee Welcome City initiative at the benefit dinner** to be held at the ‘Freedom from Fear’ refugee exhibition (curated by Dept Immigration & Citizenship Adult Migrant Education Program.
3. Put on the agenda for community partnership type meetings with faith groups, unions, NGOs, State & Federal members.
4. Help co-ordinate & publicize donation drives- Anglican & Catholic churches have shown interest in this, with a particular focus on the refugees on the boat at Merak (who were en route to Australia)
5. Support Ncsle U’s interest in organizing educational outreach to Tamil refugees in Christmas Island and Indonesia
6. Acknowledge that its likely we will seen an influx of refugees from the Indian sub-continent & start to liaise with community organisations to head off racism.
7. Seek to involve other councils in developing Regional approaches to refugee issues.
8. Poise itself to reap the benefits refugees bring- youth, vitality, skills- on the Merak boat there are: Air Condition repairmen, accountants, businessmen, aluminium fitters, electricians, carpenters, bakers, brick layers, plumbers, drivers, teachers, goldsmiths, graphic designers, hardware engineer, steel fitter, sales executives, land surveyor, lathe operator, welders, UN staff, painters, labourers, etc.

**Dinner details are:
Date: 6:30pm Thursday 25th March
Location: 'Freedom From Fear' Refugee photographic exhibition, TAFE Front Room Gallery Hunter St Newcastle (formal invitations will be sent out soon).
Cost: $50 /head (waived for speakers).
Speakers: one local from LMCC or NCC, Ian Rintoul and Saradha Natham (refugee advocates to give historical and contemporary picture).
Description:There will be Tamil food, Sudanese dancing & singing (as the most recent arrivals),

Dr Niko Leka
Newcastle No War Collective.