#KIDSOFFNAURU Prayer Vigil
St Mark’s Anglican Church Buderim
2 November 2018
It's working.... Report by Angela Mercuri
The Sunshine Coast held a prayer vigil as part of the #kidsoffnauru www.kidsoffnauru.com national campaign at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Buderim on Friday 2 November 2018. The Vigil was organized by St Mark’s, together with Love Makes A Way and Buddies Refugee Support Group. There was good local media coverage thanks to the excellent work of Diana Woolley
Approximately 60 people participated in the Vigil with speakers from St Mark’s, the Anglican Parish of Deception Bay, children from The Call of the Young and Buddies. The messages delivered by the children were the most powerful.
The key message, in keeping with the national campaign to evacuate all children and their families off Nauru by Universal Children’s Day on 20 November 2018, was a call for the Australian Government to act with compassion and immediately restore hope for a safer and secure future for children, families, women and men still in off-shore detention. It was to find a more durable solution, either in Australia or in a third country that will accept them and where they can be safe and begin to rebuild their shattered lives.
Working with like-minded groups on such campaigns continues to provide multiple benefits, including sharing the workload both in preparing for the event and share among networks, amplifying the message and strengthening the voice of each participating group – this ultimately renders the message more powerful and less able to be ignored by federal government representatives
Walk Together 2018
Cotton Tree, Sunshine Coast
27 October 2018
Another successful event Report by Gillian Duffy
To celebrate National Unity Week 2018, Buddies partnered with Welcome to Maleny and Amnesty International Maroochydore, under the umbrella name of the Sunshine Coast Refugee Action Network (SCRAN), to organise “Walk Together” in Cotton Tree Park, Maroochydore on Saturday 27 October.
It was decided to aim for a bigger event than previous years and an application was made to the Sunshine Coast Council for a grant. SCRAN was successful in obtaining a grant of $2,000 from the Mayor’s discretionary fund.
The day began very early for the organisers, setting up the stage and organising stall holders and food vendors. The program began at 10am with four short speeches. After an acknowledgement of traditional owners, Lisa McDonald as MC introduced renowned Indigenous artist Dr Jandamarra Cadd who spoke of the importance of unity. Next, Tim Buxton, founder of YouBelong, a community organisation supporting Yazidi and Kurdish refugees in Toowoomba, spoke about his experiences in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Sweet Chilli Choir provided a beautiful musical interlude and sang about women’s place in the world, human rights and the responsibility we all have to Mother Earth and our precious children before Dr Beverly Muito, a Kenyan born Sunshine Coast resident spoke. The final speaker was David Hollinsworth, local academic, mentor and promoter of social justice. Those gathered had the pleasure of listening to wise and powerful, passionate and compassionate, inspirational and motivational speakers on themes of: inclusion, freedom, respect, diversity, celebration of difference, taking care of the planet and each other, sustainability, unity, supporting, welcoming those who seek asylum and letting them know they belong!
The “Walk” was led by Balkan Gypsy band, the Unusual Suspects and about 170 people followed with banners and placards of unity and welcome in several languages. The group included children, people with disabilities, refugees, new Australians and dogs amongst the crowd dancing through the park. Onlookers joined the walk as the parade passed others gathered in the park.
On the stage, guitarist Jevan Cole played intricate finger-picking style, traditional dance tunes from Britain, Ireland and France and Jenny Fitzgibbon sang about social justice and refugee rights. Then Simo, an Iraqi musician, took the stage and in no time the group of Yazidis visiting from Toowoomba had half the audience up dancing. The day ended with New Zealand band One Vibe playing everyone out on a high.
“We walked, ate, played, learned, danced, sang, created and celebrated a wonderful day together!” was Lisa’s comment at the end of the event.
The day was successful in attracting media coverage, with a piece in the Nambour Weekly before the event and radio interviews on the day. The three groups coming together to share their load, pool their expertise and at the same time raise the profile of all the organisations and their causes was a positive experience.
For Buddies it was a successful day, with two stalls – one with Buddies information and the other manned by Murhaf, a friend of Buddies, displaying his artwork and his wife selling delicious Syrian pastries. It was also lovely to welcome Chanelle, a lady with disabilities who Buddies has supported in the past, to join the walk and sell copies of her book. Buddies signed up 2 new members and 11 people for the Bulletin, as well as collecting 23 signatures for the Refugee Welcome Zone petition. Four other people attended the monthly meeting the following day and joined Buddies.
Murhaf sold two of his paintings and generously donated another painting to Buddies to raffle at a later date. Well done to Diana, Carmel and the team who manned the stall and thanks to all who helped with the set up and pack down. Thanks also to Gayle who donated raffle prizes and Louise who lent the all-important Hi-Viz vests!
Many thanks to the fantastic team who spent many weeks organising the event: Angela, Len, Peter, Diana and Fergus from Buddies, Nina, Ruth, Mandula and Kathy from Amnesty International Maroochydore, with special thanks to Abby for art work, the indefatigable Lisa from Welcome to Maleny and last but by no means least, Dominique from Festuri.
The Merger Film Screening
Majestic Cinema, Nambour
24 October 2018
Part of national Unity Week Activities
The Majestic Cinema in Nambour offered Buddies the opportunity to screen the Australian AFL/refugee themed comedy The Merger. It was decided that, due to the film content, it was suitable for a community awareness event and it was screened as part of National Unity Week activities across the country.
Approximately 80 people attended the screening, which was well received. A bottle of Buddies sparkling wine was raffled, raising $139 and a further $54.50 was left in the donation box. After deducting the cost of the wine, this is $173.50 profit from the event. A Lucky Door Prize was donated and tickets for this had details of the #kidsoffnauru campaign.
After the film, the audience was urged to sign the petition for this important campaign, to which Buddies is a signatory.
Cotton Tree, Sunshine Coast
22 September 2018
Very successful multicultural event
Festuri’s annual event at Cotton Tree on 22nd September was once again very successful.
It was Festuri’s 19th year on the Sunshine Coast.
Buddies had a Stall with a very good response from the attendees.
4 new members, 12 sign up for the weekly Bulletin, 32 signed the RWZ petition to free the children on Nauru and 2 people came to the meeting and will also become members. So a very good outcome.
The festival was an excellent Multicultural Event which celebrated community culture and diversity.
There was a wonderful rich variety of Musical Art Forms from around the world.
Learn English Holiday
13 September 2018
Great success on several levels
This September’s Learn English Holiday program was hosted by Immanuel Lutheran College, Buderim and involved 27 participants. They were mainly from Syria but also included Yazidis from Iraq and Syria, two people from Afghanistan and one from the Congo. On Monday and Wednesday participants explored cultural differences between Australia and their home countries; on Tuesday they discovered a bit about Australia’s indigenous heritage – Chris’ didgeridoo playing was a great hit – and discussed their journeys to Australia, using dot painting to represent places and connections; on Wednesday the multicultural dinner provided great food, great music (thanks to Luay – a previous LEH participant) and lots of dancing; on Thursday participants got to practice what they’d learnt about surf safety in the waves of Mooloolaba Spit beach, play beach soccer, and enjoy a beach fish and chips lunch before spending time with native and other animals at Wildlife HQ; and on Friday the focus was on how to find a job or a course of study that could lead to a job, as well as saying farewell.
Throughout the week English was the common language, well-practised, and our classroom volunteers helped at every opportunity.
It is hard to capture adequately the extent to which the Learn English Holiday is a community effort, but a few numbers highlight how many on the Coast are involved in making it possible to do what we do:
48 classroom volunteers were there to help, including students from two schools (Immanuel Lutheran College, Matthew Flinders Anglican College);
10 people led different classroom sessions, including a USC drama lecturer (with four students), a QUT careers counsellor, a TAFE student support officer and an Indigenous professional musician;
2 Coast businesses gave us such generous price reductions that we could afford the activity (Fisheries on the Spit; Wildlife HQ);
1 school (Immanuel Lutheran College) lent us their facilities, photocopied and put together our book of materials, and provided a pair of watchful and caring eyes i.e. pastoral care;
1 school (St John’s College, Nambour) lent us their bus;
1 USC social work student did her practical placement with us, using her considerable skills to organise the homestay program;
20 Immanuel church volunteers worked to provide us with morning tea every day;
12 people volunteered as drivers; and
14 homestay hosts generously shared their lives and homes with our guests for a week.
Many, many thanks to all those who helped!
Staging Post Film Screening
Berkelouw Books, Eumundi
13 September 2018
Great success on several levels
On Thursday 13 September 2018 over 40 people attended the screening of the Staging Post film at Berkelouw Books in Eumundi. Buddies organized the event in partnership with Berkelouw Books, Berkelouw Café and Starry Nights Outdoor Movies. The event was publicized in the Noosa local press, including with a short piece in the Eumundi Green Magazine.
Someone who was walking past on the evening decided to stay for the screening rather than go home as intended to mark exam papers!
This event was a great success on several levels. Firstly, because Berkelouw Books generously waived the initial venue hire fee and also provided a $50 gift voucher.
Berkelouw Café made Buddies a generous offer for the provision of delicious finger food.
Trent Harvison of Starry Nights Outdoor Movies very generously donated his professional time and equipment to screen the movie.
All three businesses publicized the event through their own networks and Kylie at Berkelouw Books arranged a window display of topic related books prior to the event.
Gayle Enklemann, of doTerra Wellness heard about the event and attended and generously donated another $50 gift voucher. All of these partners have expressed a desire to continue to support Buddies’ work in the future. I also want to acknowledge that Berkelouw Books and Berkelouw Café previously supported the current bid to revive the Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s Refugee Welcome Zone proposal.
Importantly, through this event, Buddies was able to reach a new audience and raise awareness about people seeking asylum and refugee issues. The Staging Post is particularly appropriate because, while confronting, it is also uplifting and powerfully gives people seeking asylum the voice they have been robbed of in Australia through off-shore detention. The film gives them personal agency which is inspiring and audiences respond positively to this. Many people were interested to learn more about the Cisuarua Refugee Learning Centre on which The Staging Post is based. Third, the screening gave Buddies an opportunity to raise awareness about the current national campaign to get children off Nauru and encourage people to join up and support it. Finally, while the event was a free one, Buddies made a small profit from the night through generous donations and raffle takings.
Anyone keen to host a similar film event through your networks, feel free to contact either Gillian Duffy or Angela Mercuri.
Swim Safety & English Course
Sunshine Coast Beaches
While Buddies didn't win an award, congratulations to all, are still due.
On Saturday 8 September Buddies enjoyed the company of over 20 Syrian and Iraqi women who had come to the Coast to celebrate completion of swimming lessons organised for them by MDA (Multicultural Development Australia) and QPASTT (Queensland Program of Assistance for Survivors of Torture and Trauma).
Bulletin readers volunteered to help host our visitors, Caloundra Uniting Church women provided a delicious lunch and the day was one of warm interaction, lots of chatting and laughter and, for some, the challenge of swimming in waves.
In the words of Grace, MDA community development worker, " Many thanks to everyone for the generous hospitality to the women. We are most grateful for the beautiful moments at the beach."
If we have the opportunity to host such a group again, we'll call for volunteers through the Bulletin.
Buddies Finalists in Qld Multicultural Awards 2018
Hilton Hotel, Brisbane
19 August 2018
While Buddies didn't win an award, congratulations to all, are still due.
On Sunday 19 August Buddies took part in the presentation lunch for the 2018 Queensland Multicultural Awards.
Buddies was one of the 28 finalists chosen from 133 individuals and organisations nominated across seven award categories.
Although Buddies did not win the Community award, being chosen as one of the four finalists in that category was in itself a significant achievement especially given that Buddies is entirely a volunteer organisation.
The citation in the award booklet highlights why all of us involved in Buddies should be proud of what we do:
"Since 2002, Buddies Refugee Support Group on the Sunshine Coast has supported cultural diversity and community cohesion by linking newly-arrived refugees and asylum seekers with the local Australian community to facilitate cultural understanding, social cohesion and integration.
Buddies achieves this through hospitality and support services and through community education about the refugee experience in Australia".
Here are some images from the presentation night.
Vigil for people seeking asylum and refugees
St Mark's Anglican Church, Buderim
19 July 2018
Five years, Twelve Lives Too Many
More than 75 people gathered in Buderim on Thursday night for a Vigil of Prayer and Protest in solidarity with 1600 men, women and children imprisoned in Manus Island and Nauru detention centres.
The Vigil was part of an Australia-wide movement www.refugeecouncil.org.au www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au to advocate for an end to the unjust, inhumane and unfair treatment of asylum seekers that has resulted in 12 deaths and unmeasurable harm to already vulnerable and traumatized people who have sought the protection of our nation .
The policy of indefinite detention for boat arriving people is also of detriment to a national culture that prides itself as fair, just, compassionate towards people who are vulnerable and in need of protection and compromises the Australian voice for human rights on the global stage.
The Vigil was jointly organized by St Mark’s Anglican Church and Buddies Refugee Support Group, Buderim. The Reverend Chris Bedding of Western Australia and Love Makes a Way led the vigil that included the voice of an asylum seeker who has successfully resettled in the USA, stirring songs beautifully performed by Beulah Music and a prayer for each of the 12 people who lost their lives as a result of their detention on Manus and Nauru.
Raj Indian Restrauant, Nooosaville
20 June 2018
Celebrating World Refugee Day
Buddies held a fund raising dinner at the Raj Indian Restaurant in
Noosaville on Wednesday 20 June to celebrate World Refugee Day.
The event was well attended and raised $590 for Buddies.
Noosa MP Sandy Bolton attended and made the presentations to
the guest speakers.
Siva Kumar, the restaurant owner offered a 2 course menu plus glass of
Buddies wine at a fixed price. The menu included a Sri Lankan fish curry
especially for the event. Buddies wine was also for sale at the event
by the glass or bottle and a raffle was held. 31 people attended the dinner,
18 (58%) non Buddies members and 13 (42%) members.
Fergus Fitzgerald gave a talk about Buddies and his experience of providing homestays for refugees. Siva, who is on a SHEV and has a court hearing in August, also gave a short talk about his experience in Australia, which was followed by a brief Q&A with both speakers. Sandy Bolton presented Fergus with a bottle of Buddies wine and Siva with a book of the Sunshine Coast and gave a
short speech, in which she offered her support to Siva. Sandy drew the raffle for a bottle of Buddies sparkling cuvee, which was won by Penny Rivlin.
The $590 the event raised does not include the Goodwill donation for each bottle of wine sold. One new member signed up, 2 people signed up for the Bulletin and six people signed the Amnesty International petition to improve the Community Sponsorship Program. Noosa Today published a half page article the next day, with colour photo of Siva, which mentioned Buddies and the website.
Overall the evening went very well and an email was received from Sandy Bolton’s office to congratulate Buddies and say how much she enjoyed the evening. Everyone enjoyed the food and wine, with people particularly complimentary about the 2014 Shiraz. Siva now intends to order Buddies Goodwill wine as the house wine for the restaurant.
Screening of 'The Staging Post'
Majestic Cinema, Nambour
18 June 2018
Friendship, connection and the power of community
Here are a few photos from the night.
A team of Buddies organized a sold out screening of The Staging Post, followed by a wonderfully inspiring conversation via Skype hook up with the film’s director Jolyon Hoff and two of the film’s leads, Muzafar and Khadim who spoke movingly about their determination to help create an inclusive, supportive, learning community that has subsequently inspired so many other groups of people seeking asylum in Indonesia. In the words of a person who attended the screening: “It was a very inspirational film. I feel that if only more people could see these documentaries, their negative views of refugees would be dispelled.”
The evening was positive on several levels. First and foremost during Refuge Week, when the plight of people seeking asylum and refugees is uppermost in our minds, this film powerfully demonstrated that even in quite dire circumstances the indomitable human spirit can prevail; that human beings can still exercise a level of agency over their lives. The Staging Post treats people seeking asylum with deep respect, humanity, gives them a voice, and beautifully illustrated the power of standing in solidarity with others.
The awareness raising event was well attended, enabling Buddies to make a handy donation to Cisarua, the learning community that Muzafar, Khadim and others formed in 2013 on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia. We also raised some funds for Buddies and gained a new member.
Sincere thanks again to everyone who, in many small and large ways, contributed to making the event a success.
Quote from Tony, an audience member, after the showing:
"It was a very inspirational film. I feel that if only more people could see these documentaries, their negative views of refugees would be dispelled.
With their determination & innovation, what an asset these guys would be to Australian society, particularly our education system. After the trauma of what they've lived through, it was beautiful to see them still smiling and full of hope."
Luminous Lantern Parade
08 June 2018
Shedding Light on Settlement
On 8 June 2018, a few Buddies members attended the annual MDA Lantern Parade at Southbank Parklands in Brisbane. Here are a few photos from the night.
As one Buddies member put it:
“It was such a wonderful event and I am so pleased to have taken part in two of the last three years events. We all found it very heart warming, to see so many thousands cheering everyone who took part in the Parade. With such huge crowds, it does show that there is so much good in the community, which is heart warming. Do hope that the Qld media provide lots of coverage, whether the TV and/or Courier Mail”.
LUMINOUS is now established on the annual Queensland calendar as a show of welcome for new Queenslanders, including refugees, international students, people seeking asylum and migrants. Attended by more than 15 000 people each year, LUMINOUS Lantern Parade is Queensland's largest welcome event-lighting the way for new Queenslanders!
It celebrates Queensland Week by highlighting the strength of our cultural diversity, our heritage, our people, places and history, giving all Queenslanders the opportunity to say “Welcome” to our newest Australians.
The parade features colourful lanterns of all sizes held by representatives from government, council, business and community groups and the broader Brisbane community celebrating our state's great cultural diversity.
Foundations in Community Organising training workshop
23 February 2018
The training Foundations in Community Organising was attended by Mark Lindgard, Margaret Norris, Gillian Duffy, Lesley Willcoxson, Louise Foulkes, Stephanie Akers, Glyni Cumming, Agnieszka Swiatlowska and
Angela Mercuri. Many thanks to our trainers Dave Copeman and Elise Ganley from Qld Community Alliance.
Everyone enjoyed the training immensely and gained useful insight into what we are trying to do as members of a community group dedicated to social change. We often talk about what Buddies should do next, but rarely get such an opportunity for an outsider's perspective on why and how we make these choices.
I would highly recommend this training to anyone looking to get involved in social change, whether for Buddies or any other community group you are a member of. Any member who would like to be contacted the next time this training is available should contact Scott Grimmett.
Constance on the edge screens in Noosa
20 January 2018
Noosa Welcomes Refugees hosted a free screening of the documentary film “Constance on the Edge” at The J, Noosa Junction last Thursday. An audience of around 50 enjoyed wine and finger food before the film and a chance to chat with NWR and Buddies members.
“Constance on the Edge” is an unflinchingly honest portrayal of one Sudanese family’s journey from refugee camps in Africa to resettlement in Australia. Filmed over 10 years, it highlights the important role communities play in encouraging a sense of welcoming, healing and belonging. Noosa Mayor, Tony Wellington, who attended the screening said “I’d like to congratulate Noosa Welcomes Refugees and Buddies Refugee Support Group for their compassion, and for helping raise awareness about refugees."
Thanks to Shine Jang from Nambour Community Centre for facilitating a discussion after the screening. Thanks also to the volunteers who worked hard to make this community awareness event a success. Although it was not a fund raiser, after costs there was a small profit from the raffle and donations.
Buddies activities 2017
Kristi Kief, Secretary
19 January 2018
Wow, what a year! 2017 was jam packed with news from around the world, and honestly some of it has been pretty challenging to absorb. I don’t know about all of you, but sometimes I can become a bit down and feel helpless or ineffective.
In fact, that’s why I became involved in Buddies earlier this year. It’s been hugely rewarding, and I’m enjoying the opportunity to learn in my role of Secretary.
So I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about Buddies and the real and tangible ways we have affected peoples lives in a positive manner. Make no doubt: the small things we do have a lasting effect upon others. Many of the refugees and asylum seekers we have spoken to this year mention how deeply it affects them knowing that fellow Australians care about them.
Here are some of the ways YOU, our supporters have helped impact the lives of others in 2017:
Two fantastic Learn English Holiday programs and homestay relationships
LEH reunion picnic in Brisbane
Amazing fundraisers: Films, a concert, trivia, sausage sizzles and Eumundi Car Park (THANK YOU! To all who helped!)
$500 and an ongoing food drive for Romero Centre in Brisbane
$500 donation to the Asylum Circle Men’s Accommodation.
$500 worth of Christmas gift cards to refugee families (Indooroopilly Uniting Church refugee mission)
$1000 towards medicine and care for the men locked up on Manus (Gifts for Manus)
$500 support for men on Manus (Asylum Seekers Resource Centre)
$500 to a pro bono support group in Brisbane, which provides medical and mental health care to refugees and asylum seekers (World Wellness Clinic)
Teaming up with MDA to develop programs, including pro bono legal aid and employment assistance programs for people to work towards financial independence
Teaming up with Communify to find pro bono dental care for asylum seekers
$300 to purchase a sewing machine to help asylum seekers and refugees obtain paid work. Here's the link for their beautiful scarves.
I’m sure there are other things I have left off this list, but I hope it gives you a feeling of encouragement about the great contribution we are all making. Thanks for your continued engagement and support in 2018!
Runners for Refugees arrive in Noosa
12 January 2018
Two young endurance runners, Cassie Cohen (22) and Jackson Bursill (24) are running from 4000km from Cooktown to Melbourne to support refugees. They want to highlight the remarkable stories of refugees who have made Australia home. They are also raising funds for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
Cassie and Jackson set off from Cooktown on 23 November 2017 and arrive in Noosa on Monday 8 January. The Sunshine Coast marks the half way point in their epic journey.
The pair were welcomed by members of Noosa Welcomes Refugees and Buddies Refugee Support Group. A picnic was held at the entrance to Noosa National Park at 5.30pm where a cheque for $300 ASRC was handed over by Gabby Sutherland and Angela Mercuri.
Additional information is at: