We can do something: #MITAdonate #JusticeforRefugees

As some of you may have read in the past, my Mum, Margaret regularly travels from Ballarat to visit people seeking asylum at MITA, a detention centre in Broadmeadows.

Yesterday, my parents and I joined thousands of people around Australia who walked for Justice for Refugees. On their way home to Ballarat, Mum visited MITA and gave clothes and other items to 7 families. (I donated my Richmond scarf to a boy who is a keen supporter. He and his family have been in MITA for nearly a year.)

Mum has given me some further suggestions for donations for those who’d like to help those at MITA. Any assistance would be very much appreciated. Items can be either new or good quality second-hand.

Men, women and children

  • Jeans (straight or narrow legs only
  • T-shirts
  • Warm tops, jackets, night wear etc for winter
  • Hats, scarfs and glove
  • Shoes (no high heels)

Women and girls

  • Leggings
  • Headbands, hair clips, necklaces, bracelets

Children

  • Colouring, activity, and sticker books
  • Pencil cases, coloured pencils, textas

Other

  • Large pieces of material (about 2 metres) for making tops and dresses
  • Backpacks for children
  • Soft travel bags or sport bags for adults
  • Large handbags or bags to carry nappies etc.

If you are able to assist (and live in Melbourne or Ballarat), please get in contact with me.

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There are also a number of practical actions we can all take to both advocate for more humane refugee policy and to assist those refugees & asylum seekers in Australia.

* The wonderful Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has a list of ways you can get involved and also produce excellent fact sheets & mythbusters­ to assist you in discussing these issues.   *Amnesty International also has useful resources on refugee issues if you’d like to learn more.

* Write to your federal Member of Parliament: Oxfam have some tips on how to do this.

*Spread the word: host a screening or encourage friends, family and colleagues to watch Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea film. Doco is available to buy for $20 here: http://deepblueseafilm.com/­ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/deepblueseafilm

*Volunteer: there are a range of organisations that work to support asylum seekers and refugees. For example, you could tutor refugees in homework programs.  See Refugee Council’s list of organisations in your community.


Budget day, volunteer week and my Mum – updated

My Mum, budget day and volunteer week

It is budget day here in Australia.  I’ve decided to write about my Mum, Margaret. I’d love for the budget to make her happy because she’d love a budget that builds rather than divides our community, one that does not push more people out to the margins.

Mum’s dedicated to her work in aged care and is involved in a range of community activities, some organised and others are just part of who she is. (I can remember leaving out lollies in homemade bon bons for the postie when I was a kid.)

It’s National Volunteer Week and over the past ten years I’ve been particularly impressed with how my mother has continued to visit detention centres; write letters, attend meetings, forums, and rallies, and organise fundraising events for asylum seekers as well as  support refugees who have settled in Ballarat.  Some of these activities such as visiting detention centres have been with my Dad or her friends.

I also love this picture that @Kon_K founder of the Asylum Seeker Centre tweeted of the hundreds of people who attended a recent information night for volunteers.  It’s all too easy to be depressed by the snark, the haters, the gutlessness of our politicians, to “read the comments” and yell at the TV particularly in this election year.  In those moments, I need to remember my Mum and all those working in their own way to make our community a better one for all.

[And here’s a picture of my Mum at my brother Steve and Shu-Ling’s wedding (which was also both Dad and my birthday).]

Update 26 May 2013 

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre posted this week that baby Helya was born at MITA (Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation).

Mum, together with friends of hers from Ballarat regularly visit MITA.  They were at MITA this Wednesday and she said there were at least 20 children of different ages at the visitors centre and many were asking her for clothes. (There may well be more children in MITA as not all were necessarily at the visitor’s centre at the time Mum visited).

Mum said there are a number of toddlers, both boys and girls and also quite a few boys and girls around 7 – 10 years old at MITA. She said warm clothes such as jeans and coats would be particularly appreciated.  (Note donations of clothes or books cannot just be sent to MITA, the staff require the name of a child.)

If you would like to assist, please get in contact with me or you can also donate directly to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Winter Appeal at this link: http://www.givenow.com.au/asrcwinterappeal