A local group supporting refugees is going from strength to strength.
The Mid North Coast Refugee Support Group held it's AGM on Saturday October 12 at the Wauchope Arts Council Hall.
Spokeswoman Janette Jones said a new and committed committee were elected to fulfil the aims of the group which are to educate the local community and dispel existing myths about asylum seekers and provide a voice for a welcoming attitude to refugees.
They also advocate for humane conditions and treatment of people from refugee backgrounds. According to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, a refugeeis someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.
For a number of years, the group have been hosting refugee families, and providing them free holidays in the area through the Home Among the Gum Trees program.
"This means our generous hosts have opened up their homes to provide a much needed holiday for refugees and let them see areas outside of Sydney," said Ms Jones.
In 2018, following an introductory visit to this area that the group organised, eight Tamil refugees, including three children decided to move to this area so that they can abide by their Safe Haven Enterprise Visa requirements of working and/or studying in a regional area for 3.5 years.
The group have assisted them with accommodation options, employment searching support and personal friendship.
One of the refugees wrote recently: "We cannot forget the support you are giving. It gives us confidence to move on in our lives".
Janette said that currently there is concern about the treatment of refugees on Manus Island.
"There are currently 53 asylum seekers who have committed no crime yet have been imprisoned in the Bomana Detention Centre in Port Moresby since August 12, 2019.
"Their imprisonment violates our country's human rights obligations as well as our common values of decency, compassion, justice and 'a fair go'. These men have effectively 'disappeared'. Despite doing no wrong, all 53 men have had their phones confiscated and all contact with the outside world denied.
"We have recently written to politicians about the issue but they are arguing that this is needed to protect our borders. We believe this is an inhumane act going against human rights and isn't required to protect our borders," she said.
The Mid North Coast Refugee Support Group believe these people should get immediate access to their phones so they can contact their family, doctors, lawyers,advocates and support networks.
The group says they should be released from Bomana detention centre and given immediate access to adequate medical care, and have their refugee determinations properly determined and reviewed.
The group's next meeting will be on Saturday December 7th at 10:30am at the Wauchope Arts Council Hall and lunch will be shared after the meeting.