The Hastings Refugee Support Group says the Australian government needs to urgently alter its stance on the future of Manus Island’s asylum seekers.
Support group chair Janette Jones says the volunteer organisation is concerned about the treatment of both refugees and detainees on the island.
“These people are fleeing persecution in their own country. Australian has a responsibility; it is a signatory to the United Nations’ Human Rights Convention.
“We should be protecting these people. They are in distress. They need our protection.
“These people have been demonised in the media and at government level.”
Ms Jones said the decision to place the asylum seekers on Manus was causing the local population to become resentful, raising genuine safety concerns.
“The UN has verified the situation on the island, there is evidence of attacks, and these people have risked their lives to flee the crisis in their own countries.
”Our group believes we should be pressuring the government to provide food and medical assistance. There is no real need for them to move from where they are,” she said.
“And we believe they should be brought to Australia.”
Ms Jones noted the recent offer from New Zealand to house some 150 detainees per year. That offer has been on the table for the last two years and is supported by the Labor Party.
The Hastings Refugee Support Group next meets on Saturday December 2, 10am in the Wauchope Arts Hall off Bain Park.
A fundraising event on December 8 – also at the Wauchope Arts Hall – starts at 6.30pm with a dinner with music at 8pm. The cost is $20 for members and $25 for non-members. There is a separate charge for the dinner.