eX-detainees condemn the so-called ‘Refugee Council of Australia’ (headed and led by white non-refugees/eX-detainees) who have recently proposed to Australian MPs to send eX-detainees, Asylum seekers and Refugees on TPV and SHEV to work in the regional areas due to a shortage of fruit picking, packing and farming jobs in exchange for giving our community  “residency”. 

The nature of the ‘Refugee Council of Australia’ proposal is openly discriminating against Refugees and Asylum Seekers when compared to other workers in Australia, and is therefore inherently arbitrary and capricious. The application of this proposal will disproportionately impact vulnerable people who already have a long history of trauma due to the Australian government’s harsh Refugee policies. Factors such as the government not providing adequate humanitarian settlement to Refugees continue to play an integral role in perpetuating damages upon eX-detainees in all aspects of their life. This is a policy of indentured servitude and should be rejected: we can and should do better for people who need asylum.

Therefore, if anyone thinks the ‘Refugee Council of Australia’ idea is “excellent” or nodding their heads to each other, just remember, we came to Australia to seek asylum, not to fix your damaged economy or to work in regional areas or receive employment in your unwanted leftover jobs in exchange for residency. We all know how Australia is thriving with racism since the white occupation and how concentrated racism is within the regional areas. We are here to seek freedom and justice, nothing else.

Why do the eX-detainee community in Australia have to be targeted and discriminated against time and time again? During the Australian bushfires, we were forgotten and during the coronavirus we are deliberately ignored. Our families and children are still separated and our family members including children are traumatised by witnessing us experiencing torture and abuse in detention centres. We are the community lastly remembered when something goes wrong in Australia whilst the first to be targeted and exploited when things are not going well in Australia. 

Using the vulnerability of eX-detainees who are arguably ONE of the poorest, racially profiled and systematically discriminated in Australia is unacceptable. The current ‘Australian Refugee Council’ proposal stems from slavery / indentured labour method that has been and continues to be used by white colonisers around the world. Some of us eX-detainee survivors are from Africa or the Asia Pacific where our community groups are being forcefully transported as slaves or forced to work as indentured labourers in white-owned factories and farms with no or little money. This is how Western countries built their economy in the past and present. This is the same practice the ‘Refugee Council of Australia’ is proposing in 2020 in Australia. 

Australian white supremacy refugee policies can’t exist unless so-called refugee organisations like the ‘Refugee Council of Australia’ give the Australian government cues like this to systematically target and abuse us. We eX-detainees still remember the role the Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army, Foundation House and Australian Save the Children have played in helping the Australian government to shape the current white supremacist refugee policy which has cost us many lives inside and outside detention centres and created untold trauma. We ask the ‘Refugee Council of Australia’ to immediately withdraw their white supremacist refugee proposal.

It is not you who decides what our destiny is or our needs are. We eX-detainees strongly disapprove of any refugee movement, organisation, policy or individual that creates and/or supports a refugee scheme which violates our civil rights. The only alternative to the detention is no detention. The only alternative to the current situation is for the eX-detainees on TPV and SHEV visas is to provide our community members with humanitarian permanent protection and ongoing support services. 

Thousands of eX-detainees released into the community are blocked by the Australian government from being granted permanent protection and some of us with permanent residency are waiting over 4 to 5 years to become citizens; even after being released from detention. We do not have rights to access NDIS, disability pension, public housing, family reunion and government subsidised university education. Our people are denied these fundamental rights, in addition to being subjected to societal discrimination as people of colour, refugees and other intersectional identities, with disabilities inflicted and/or exacerbated by the same government system that is denying them of these rights.

Finally here are some tweets from eX-detainees and asylum seekers RISE members, who arrived under an ALP government, who have worked in a poultry factory in regional areas across Australia: https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/NoRegionalVisas #NoRegionalVisas

eX-detainee Team