(04/04/22) update: Australia has *officially* accepted New Zealand’s resettlement offer for refugees detained in Australia’s offshore detention regime!
Together, you’ve stood with us for justice, freedom, hope and dignity. You supported us to travel to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and all around the country, meeting decision makers and people with lived experience, advocating for change.
You’ve consistently raised your voices against consecutive Australian Governments who have treated refugees with nothing short of contempt, and together, we’ve won. This is a huge win for people power, and highlights that when we stand up collectively and demand change, we can make a difference.
We currently know that the deal will see 450 refugees resettled over three years. If all those spaces are filled, it still leaves a shortfall of approximately 500 people who will still require permanent resettlement solutions. We welcome this deal, but it can and must be expanded.
(03/03/22) update: Because you didn’t stop raising your voices, the Australian Government has now agreed ‘in principle’ to New Zealand’s offer to resettle refugees from Australia’s offshore detention regime. This is a real and tangible solution for people who have faced nearly nine years of injustice and uncertainty. Currently the ‘in principle’ agreement is back with the New Zealand Government and needs to be signed off by the New Zealand Cabinet before we start seeing any movement. The reality however, is that we’ve taken the Australian Government from outright refusal concerning the New Zealand offer, to consideration, negotiation, and now to acceptance.
The #GameOver campaign will continue to call for any deal reached to be as expansive as possible, and for it to be expedited as a matter of urgency. Of the utmost importance is that those still detained in Australia are released into the community while they await permanent solutions, and those still offshore are brought to Australia and released into the community under the same conditions. We will also be advocating for the New Zealand Government to ensure any deal reached is retrospective in size.
(02/02/22) update: More than 200 refugees and people seeking asylum still remain trapped offshore in PNG and Nauru. In Australia, approximately 80 refugees are detained in detention centres and APODS, whilst more than 1000 people are living in the community, with no certainty regarding their futures. In PNG, Covid-19 spreads unabated through towns and cities, more than 20 refugees and people seeking asylum have tested positive to the virus, with many fearful to even seek the required medical attention due to community reprisals. Despite the Australian Government’s announcement last October that it would be ending its offshore processing agreements with PNG at the end of this year, over 100 men still remain there, many without permanent resettlement solutions. Their safety is at risk everyday. In Australia, the situation is no better. An outbreak at the Park Hotel APOD has led to more than 20 refugees testing positive to Covid-19. With no ability to isolate and trapped in rooms with poor ventilation for up to 23 hours a day, the virus spread like wildfire. Through first-hand conversations with refugees and people seeking asylum detained at the Park Hotel, people were fearful for their lives. The New Zealand Government’s offer to resettle refugees from Australia’s offshore detention regime still stands. In the most recent round of Senate Estimates, the Department confirmed it was ‘in negotiations’ with the New Zealand Government regarding the offer, but no further details were given.
(01/07/21) update: As we approach eight years of this policy, approximately 230 people remain detained offshore in PNG and on Nauru. Over 100 people who were brought to Australia to receive medical treatment are detained in APODs or detention centres. More than 1000 people are living in community detention or on limiting visas, still with no certainty regarding their futures. New Zealand’s offer of resettlement still stands. In May, Amnesty travelled to New Zealand, hoping to raise the issue of refugee resettlement with Prime Minister Scott Morrison directly while he was in Queenstown to meet New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Just two days after our return, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews’ acknowledged that Australia is now in talks with New Zealand to resettle refugees. While this is a promising sign, no more details have been given. We’re asking that the Government finalises negotiations with New Zealand to ensure refugees are resettled as a matter of urgency and expands any deal reached to include all refugees trapped in Australia’s offshore detention regime that are not in another resettlement pathway.
In October 2019 I travelled to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea with Amnesty International to meet with refugees and people seeking asylum sent to Manus Island more than seven years ago by the Australian Government.
We found people trapped indefinitely by Australia’s offshore detention regime who are suffering terribly. They have been left without hope for seven years and are destitute physically and emotionally.
They’ve lost friends, family, and are tired from hanging on. They desperately need our help.
They are not allowed to work legally, they can’t access education, play the sports they love, access health care or plan for their futures. Many live with trauma and illness every day because of their treatment in detention.
But this isn’t just happening offshore. It’s happening right here in our cities. In March I went to visit the Mantra Hotel in Melbourne. This is not a hotel as you and I know them. A whole floor of the Mantra has been transformed into what is referred to as an Alternative Place of Detention (APOD). Many of those who had been Medevaced to Australia to receive urgent medical treatment are now being held in locations like this around Australia. Yet what was meant to be a refuge has become just another nightmare. Locked in their rooms for 19 hours a day, for months on end, they have nearly no access to the outside world, yet alone the proper treatment they were brought to Australia to receive. They’ve gone from one form of detention to another, and simply traded barbed wire for keycards.
It’s time to call ‘Game Over’ and get these people to safety so they can rebuild their lives.
As a public figure within Australia, I feel a responsibility to those who are part of my sporting community, and that’s why I’m lending my support to get all people to safety.
Football is built on the backs of migrants and refugees and we can’t turn our back on those who are part of our family, however difficult it might be.
The guys had their own league on Manus Island, and football played a big role in keeping them sane. It was their respite, their sanctuary amid the suffering.
They showed me photos and videos of the games, the goals, we shared our love of the game and became friends.
Samad, a passionate cricketer used to bowl in the middle of the night, just to be free for a moment. Ezatullah hasn’t given up on his dreams of becoming a great kickboxer.
I met cricketers, kickboxers and played football with refugees in Port Moresby, a moment when they were free for just an hour playing the game they love.
I was deeply touched by them all. This is the incredible power of sport. But it also comes with the responsibility to stand up and help others when the need arises.
That’s why I’m asking all Australians to raise their voices for the immediate resettlement of the remaining asylum seekers and refugees in detention offshore.
We have to find a better way to control immigration without hurting innocent people, and I know we can. But it has to start with saving these people who are in deep pain.
We’re all responsible for shaping the Australia we wish to live in, and the way we treat others.