31 January 2002 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
A newly formed non-profit Association in Western Australia with an ambitious set of objectives set around a proposed holistic farming community for holiday makers, students, school camps as well as other socially more vulnerable groups - including asylum seekers - may pose yet another considerable challenge to the Australian Minister for Immigration, Phillip Ruddock.
Next Wednesday Mr Jack H. Smit, the Coordinator of Project SafeCom Inc., will present a draft of The Australian People's Refugee Visa at a presentation at a Conference at Curtin University of Technology in Perth.
The conference, entitled Australia Indonesia Border Tensions: Continuing the Dialogue on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and People Smugglers is held at the University's Bentley Campus and convened by The Research Unit for the Study of Societies in Change (RUSSIC) and the Migration, Ethnicity, Refugees and Citizenship Research Unit (MERC).
The document, which is called a Discussion Paper, is not just a flier, which can be sent to refugees by people who do not wish to identify with the current policies and strategies of the Australian
government. It also aims at informing the Mums and Dads in Australia of the country's obligations under the UN Refugee conventions. It draws on everyday human rights perspectives, such as being treated as innocent until proven guilty and the right to free speech: "...you may always speak with the media..."
This Visa document is attempting to recreate a generous approach to asylum seekers in Australia, stipulating all their rights under the UN Conventions in an uncluttered and unabbreviated exposé, and its final version is printable as a flier, informing Australians about its International obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
And further, within the premise that an asylum seeker under UN conventions has a legal status in a signatory country, it outlines the freedom to complain, the freedom to protest and full access to social and legal services and a permanent visa as things Australians would offer if they themselves would issue visa documents.
Project SafeCom currently seeks feedback and active endorsement of this document by all refugee action and lobby groups in Australia, as well as by selected representatives of all political persuasions.
At next week's workshop the document will be released to the public, but it will still be circulated as a Draft/Discussion Paper, in the hope that Australians may start to consider their obligations under the UN conventions - something the Howard government according to Mr Smit fails to tell the Australian people. People and organisations are invited to endorse the document.
More information is available from the Project's Web Site: http://www.safecom.org/. The document is available from the Web Site from Wednesday.
Early release is available on request to media organisations. Please e-mail us.