Periodical Member Newsletter
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Vol 1 number 1
August 2002

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Promotional CD-ROM

In this complimentary Edition of our Newsletter we want you to be aware of our freeware CD-ROM. The CD was designed to maximize privacy of email communication, and features some superb programs which forever protect your computer from being invaded by viruses and from downloading unwanted emails. Not for sale, but available with a donation from our 'serious' supporters: check the details as well as the programs on the CD by clicking on the image! click on this image to visit the freeware cd page!

Recommended Sites

Most Sites below are listed on our Network pages, shich now list 140 refugee websites related to Australian refugees. To visit these pages, click here.

° Global Carnival
° Christmas Island website
° No Detention
° A Just Australia
° Maribyrnong Watch
° Bringing the House down
° The Freedom bus
° Rural Australians 4R
° RRAN Perth
Quotable Quotes

Fascism is a fuzzy totalitarianism characterized by selective populism, contempt for the weak, fear of difference, obsession with plots, and a cult of tradition. - Umberto Eco

"Minds are like parachutes, they only work when they are open."

with thanks to Steve Georgopoulos

When spider webs unite, they can halt even a lion.

with thanks to
Craig Hendry

"All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality." - Martin Luther King Jr.

with thanks to
Julian Burnside QC

Pt Hedland detainees

[....] But despite the hope that many of them feel, many also [feel] complete despair and hopelessness. A number have talked openly about their attempts at suicide and self harm, of their desire to be free at any cost, and at the emotional, physical and psychological damage they are experiencing behind the razor wire. It is very hard to walk away from these people, knowing that I am free and they are still inside, and that because of our government, many will never see freedom in this country. The guilt I feel from this is only tempered by their constant words of support, and their genuine thanks for what all the pro-refugee people and groups are doing in this country. They feel that things are slowly changing, and they hope that they will change in time for them to be free, to experience the freedom that we all take for granted everyday.

by Darren
a Freedom Bus crew member

Just in: Important News!

8th August, 2002

Call for Judicial Inquiry into Refugee Review Tribunal

The High Court of Australia today found that thousands of asylum seekers who had their applications for a Protection Visa refused by the Refugee Review Tribunal were denied procedural fairness.
Read more in our Newsletter here

Online action

Our web presence was especially relevant when at the start of the June 2002 Woomera hungerstrike we drafted a Media Statement and wrote around the internet to ask for endorsements and/or feedback.

By proposing to present it a collective Media Statement, we also conformed to what we really wanted to see: more collective action by refugee groups around Australia.

Within about a week more than 650 organisations and individuals endorsed the statement online, and the Statement was sent to 50 news and media organisations around Australia. And using Senator Slapper, a program developed by refugee advocates, we sent copies to all MP's and Senators in Australia's Federal government.

Read the Media Statement and all endorsements here

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Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Narrogin WA 6312
Phone 041 70 90 130

This Newsletter: a new initiative!

Welcome to this Newsletter!

This is the first issue of a special Newsletter for members and supporters of Project SafeCom. Because of the celebratory nature of this event we have developed this public edition as an open publication for refugee supporters and 'friends'. We felt that our "other" Newsletter, hosted by (see the right hand column item) had developed into more a frequent and open 'refugee news and updates service'. To our Association's registered members we have sent a slightly different version, with some additional members-only news items.

NOTE: There are many links to other websites and pages in this Newsletter. All links open a new window in your browser, so your reading is not unnecessarily interrupted.

If you do not want to receive any further Newsletters like this one, simply click here to unsubscribe.

The Inside these Walls Project

A few months ago our steering committee unanimously endorsed a proposal to fully concentrate on the refugee issues around Australia for at least the remainder of 2002 - also because we planned to launch the "Inside these Walls" project - a plan to lobby refugee action and support groups around Australia create Benefit Concerts inside EVERY detention centre around Australia on Christmas eve, December 24 2002.

Imagine Christmas Eve...

Imagine Christmas evening 2002. Imagine small stages inside every detention centre around Australia. Imagine the Myer Bowl in Melbourne and Sydney's Opera House packed out for a performance by a famous and renowned Australian band.

Imagine "Gigs for Refugees" in every capital city and many towns around Australia. Imagine a TV Crew inside every detention centre as well as in Australia's major venues, filming the events.

Imagine all of them starting at the same time, the starting hour synchronised across Australia's timezones. Imagine satellite link-ups across Australia - your TV screen zooming in on Maribyrnong, then Villawood, then Christmas Island.

Imagine the Concerts starting with a band such as Yothu Yindi. Imagine these Concerts to be Benefit Concerts - assisting refugees on Temporary Protection Visas. Imagine a phone room, and phone numbers rolling across the screen.

Imagine these Concerts all hosted/convened by a senior federal politician who has dared speaking out against the current policy of mandatory detention.

Are you so far with us? Good. Because that's our vision too. We're sending a briefing paper in a week or so to all refugee action, lobby and support groups around Australia. More than 25 artists have already expressed their interest to participate in the events. One politician has already committed to participate. Others have written to us, supporting and endorsing the events. And three producers are prepared to start work on the project.

We need your support for this plan. We can not do this by ourselves: it's only going to work if refugee groups around Australia work with this. Please explore the side columns for several ways to support us - or click here!

Wanted: supporters in Perth, Western Australia!

Project SafeCom's activities are coordinated from Narrogin in Western Australia, about 170 kms S-SW of Perth - with meetings held in Fremantle and Rockingham. Up till now we have primarily made ourselves audible and visible via the internet, using our website as a starting point.

This Newsletter is partly written and designed the way it is because we're also seeking a substantial number of people to get involved with our work in Western Australia,Membership Application Form: click to download the Word-97 Document and amongst those people we need a group of people who are able to be part of our working and action team, which operates from the South Metropolitan area - Fremantle and Rockingham.

We meet every three weeks, at the moment at various venues (looking for a more permanent venue in the Fremantle area!). Please download the Membership application form [click on the WORD image], print it out and send it to us!

What's on the cards? Well, first the Inside these Walls project: there's a lot to do between now and Christmas!

Daybreak in Detention - In the first week of October Australian refugee action and support groups will see further concerted action on the occasion of the first anniversary of the SIEV-X sinking. Action is already planned and we'd like to be part of this action - announced under the name of "Daybreak in Detention". See the announcement here.

4 August 2002: Doing Port Hedland
Jack Smit

Only at the last hour of my busy working week in Port Hedland I find some time to visit the Port Hedland IPRC. Earlier on in the week I had been at the reception counter to register for a visit, and on the Friday morning before the weekend I had popped in to check whether the request had been approved.

The Welcome Sign appeared friendly enough, as did the ACM staff. But the first phrase on the large white metal sign next to the outer entry "....although no formal identification is required for a visit...." could not fool me. Immediately I had to think of the friendly manipulations of what some call 'facts' on the website of Australia's Minister for Immigration: like everyone else, I had to produce a photo ID when registering for my visit.

There were smiles from staff, all of them locals from Port Hedland.

There was hilarity when the lady from Reception, who unlocked the outer gate for me, proceeded to lock herself out in the small courtyard - together with me. Some jokes were made, and staff in the outdoor visiting area smiled: these guys would care about the detainees.

Port Hedland is a friendly detention centre, it appears. Some locals on the residents' committee regularly meet with representatives of detainees and staff; things are on the improve after the removal of the former Centre Manager and the Catering Supervisor - who are reportedly both under investigation - and some detainees can go out for an afternoon with those who regularly visit them.

While I talk with the warm and soft-spoken Sri Lankan who has elected to sign for a voluntary return to his wife and children, three others of the small Port Hedland visiting group I had met earlier on for a barbecue, talk with other detainees at the adjoining tables in the courtyard.

The man I talk with cannot help his tears when he mentions his wife, who is being threatened by the Tamils. He shares the story of an interpreter who stuffed up his chances in Australia's refugee approval process, someone who at a later stage even personally wrote him to apologise for his mistakes - too late.

I see two things confirmed that afternoon.

This detainee would, in a country where the fullness of the UN Convention is implemented, have been welcomed as a genuine refugee, and we would have paid for his family to come and join him; and during the hour-long visit, the sun and the smiles around cannot undo the twelve times that my mind looses its concentration on the detainee's story - whenever I hear a lock being opened or closed, and when I hear the rattling of a bunch of keys, accompanied by heavy footsteps of steel-capped boots.

This is a maximum security prison. And the UN Conventions are firmly and arbitrarily locked out.

Jack H Smit, Coordinator
Project SafeCom Inc.
Narrogin WA

Our Actions: small but consistent

Because Project SafeCom was born in Narrogin in WA country, about 170 km S-SW from Perth, we have a handicap when we think of action, and especially refugee action. While others can more easily garner support from many people in a more physical sense, we have to work twice as hard to be seen and heard. Our friends at RRAN (Refugee Rights Action Network) in Perth have much faster collaborative opportunities because of the larger group of people accessible within the closer proximity of a metropolitan area.

This limitation has also provided us with opportunities to exploit the internet to bridge the tyranny of distance: last month we experienced our 'peak' day, when 256 people visited our website on one day.

When we post a message, not just to our own Newsletter at, but also through about 23 e-lists, it reaches about 10,000 people within 24 hours.

During the Students & Sustainability Conference at Murdoch University in Perth, held in the second week of August, we had a positive presence with our stall. It was a great opportunity to present our identity amongst the many students from around Australia who attended, and as one of the students commented to us, we were, after all, the "refugee guys". For us many 'email addresses materialised' when we met many people who before we had only known through the internet connections across Australia.

Via our website, we have a strong educational function: feedback from visitors shows how many people not just find documentation on our website on the refugee documentation page, but also how the information provided informs people of the simplicity and openness towards refugee issues when the UN Conventions are applied.

This is especially apparent in our 'rebel visa' - The Australian People's Refugee Visa (click to visit the page). In a simple but effective way we could show how principles of equity and non-discrimination, and applying some of the foundations of the UN Refugee Convention, must lead to acceptance of many refugees who arrive in Australia.

We're forging ahead with courage: for an Incorporated Association which has yet to see its first birthday, we can be satisfied with the progress we made so far.

Getting Published:

The Independent Newspaper and online News and Opinion service The Paper published our article "Australian refugee action groups: shifting game positions" in Edition 37, August 2002.

Summary: The time may have come for refugee advocates in Australia to reconsider their positions in the human rights landscape following the latest statements by Immigration Minister Ruddock on the June 2002 Woomera breakout. Read the article here.

A child comments

I am only 11. I am Australian. I am angry. How can John Howard sleep at night? I am disgusted at our government. We are meant to be advancing, not going backwards. We need a media release on Tampa Day, 26th of August if anyone is interested... I feel very strongly towards all refugees, but feel helpless, what can an 11 year old do?

Gaby from NSW
Read it here

Our other newsletter

We also issue more regular free news updates, usually biased towards the refugee issues in Australia. These newsletters are text-only (no HTML, no attachments) and are sent a few times a week.

To subscribe to our news updates, click here. Your email will receive a reply from, the people who manage our email list. You need to click on the link in that email to confirm your subscription: this is called a "double opt-in" - a security design to prevent anyone from being added to a list without their consent. Read the archives here.

Carbon free driving?

At Project SafeCom we're not very keen on the increasing acceptance of "excusing oneself" by means of earning carbon credits in commerce and industry.

We think it's a policy which over time will discount and ignore the immediate urgency of ceasing the use of fossil fuels on a planet which groans under the weight of the devastating greed of ever-increasing production in a climate where the use of fossil fuels is not sanctioned.

We think fossil fuels should be banned entirely - and replaced by the growing number of alternatives available to us.

In that context we want to offer you the use of the very smart Carbon Compensation Calculator, developed by Men of The Trees, a tree growing association in Western Australia. Click here to try it!

The Refugee Ribbonİ
" target="_blank">click on this Ribbon image to explore the Refugee Ribbons page

The Refugee Ribbonİ is steadily becoming an Australian symbol for refugee support and a fantastic fundraiser for refugee groups. There are now some 7500 ribbons 'out there' amongst the Australian public: a sign that a growing number of people, though buying a ribbon, move into a space where just attitudes are considered for refugees. Click here.

Supporting us
1. If you belong to a refugee action or support group, and you're interested in the Inside these Walls project for your group, ask at your next meeting about the project. We're sending out the briefing papers in a week or so.
2. You can support us by subscribing to our Newsletter. See above, or click here to subscribe.
3. To make a donation to our project, transfer your funds to our account at Bendigo Community Bank Kulin, BSB Number 633-000. Account name: Project SafeCom Inc., account 11564 3900.
PayPal 4. If you're already a PayPal customer, you can also use our PayPal online payment facility. Simply click here to proceed.

Note: For security reasons, Australian residents using PayPal for the first time, cannot complete the transaction until their next Credit Card statement arrives. Choosing this road to make donations may take considerable time, unless you have online access to your Credit Card statements.

5. You can become a member of Project SafeCom for as little as $20.00 per year. To explore this option, with our new feature of the online members lounge, coming online voting and polls, and the internet overcoming many limitations of distance, you may want to do this. We already have members in Queensland and Victoria, and an Associate member in Dallas, TX, USA. Click here to visit the membership application page.
August 26: TAMPA DAY

Wear a Black Armband

A call has been issued around Australia to Shame Howard on Tampa Day, August 26. It can work in a very decentralised way if there's interest in your workplace, community group, campus or school. Read the call to action here.