Safe Harbor pop-up installation in Whitmore Square

The Safe Habor project held a pop-up installation in Whitmore Square on Saturday. It was a busy day for the organisers with public engagement from the moment they set up. It was heartening to meet people who had came from Goolwa, Port Willunga and the Hills as well as from suburbs all around Adelaide. People were asked to sign a petition for the transfer of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru to Australia.  There were a  collection of “bite-sized” info cards to give people more information on the issue and  Adults and children has the opportunity to decorate and painted small boatss. At least  50 were added to the flotilla during the day.

Thanks to Anthea and Graham  from Adelaide Vigil For Manus and Nauru who were on hand to engage with the painters about their  experiences visiting Manus Island. A big thanks  also to Kerryn and Maddy for the live music, and the Rythms of Resistance group for their drumming session.

Please keep spreading the word – like the project on facebook  and attend one of our events with your friends and family:

  • Small boat painting workshop – Gallery Yampu 1 Jenkins Street Birkenhead Sunday 13th Jan 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.  Turn up for all or part of the session. All materials provided. No skills or experience necessary.
  •  Coreflute boat making workshop – Littlehampton Sunday 13th Jan. 10 a.m. till 2 p.m.  All materials provided. No skills or experience necessary.
  • Pop-Up Installation Wellington Square, North Adelaide Sunday 19th Jan any time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Come and see the hundreds of small boats surrounding the big one, hang around to paint a small boat to add to the flotilla, learn a bit about what is really going on in the off-shore camps, stay for the druming and the music.

 If you are a musician and would like to play at the pop-up installation at Wellington Square on 19 January please contact Mij on 0405 086 533 or email.

Safe Harbour Project: End offshore dentention

Safe Harbour

A small group of Adelaide-based activists have devised a project aimed at persuading the government (whether it be the current Coalition, or, after the next Federal election, the ALP) to close the Manus Island and Nauru concentration camps and finally, finally, begin to treat all refugees and asylum seekers in the “care” of the Commonwealth with humanity and compassion. 

The Goals: to draw the attention of the public to the on-going detention of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island, and viable alternatives to this cruel regime; to engage the public – children as well as adults – in supporting refugees and asylum seekers, including those already in the community, and those still in off-shore prisons.

In the unlikely event all the off-shore centres are closed during the time the installation is on display, it will still go ahead, with the information unchanged, and the final message tweeked to say “Never Again”.

The Timing: this is really important. We need it to happen over the coming summer, well before the next Federal election, scheduled to be in or before May next year. Our aim is to have the first installation set up on the banks of the Torrens near the Convention Centre for the ALP National Conference which runs 16th to 18th December. 

Who is involved: growing numbers of refugee supporters and advocates, both individuals and organisations, plus well known South Australian artists, musicians, and a professional set designer and builder.  

What we have in mind: we envisage a large plywood boat, built off-site and assembled in a number of places over a number of weekends. These include each of the city squares, as well as public places in selected suburbs. This boat will be painted, and covered with lesser-known facts about what really goes on in the detention camps, and messages of hope.  A number of well-known artists will do the painting. 

We also intend printing a series of “Facts, myths and government lies” about the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, both off-shore and in detention centres in Australia.

The large boat will act as a magnet to people of all ages, who will be able to view the installation and all its messages, and then paint and decorate small balsa wood boats – 500 in number – with their own messages. These small boats, interspersed with other boats made from re-used core flute, and from coloured card folded into origami shapes will then be “planted” around the large boat to be become part of a growing, highly visible and beautiful installation.

At the end of the project, we plan to deliver the large boat, and probably lots of the small ones, to appropriate destinations such as the Department of Home Affairs (Immigration and Citizenship) or to politician’ electoral offices, preferably in a blaze of publicity.

We are also negotiating with the Migration Museum around the possibility of having the boat displayed there.

Some of the finer details are yet to be locked in; many will depend on the extent to which people are willing to lend their energies to the project. But our aim is to create a stunning piece of community art which will help change the treatment of refugees in recent years.

Keen to get involved? – we need people with all kinds of skills!

Contact Mij Tanith on 0405 086 533 or by email.

Ongoing collaboration with Adelaide University

A few years ago, Adelaide University commenced a program awarding scholarships to refugees to complete degree courses. Many have experienced great financial difficulties when their Centrelink payments were removed. Circle of Friends Australia was aware of this happening and drew it to the attention of the University.

Since then a partnership has grown where we are working with the university to meet the needs of these students. This is also about to extend to an accommodation program to give refugee students the assurance of safe and affordable housing with people from our Circle of Friends community. The policy and process are being sorted at the moment and you will see publicity about its implementation soon.

Collaboration with Adelaide University

This is an exciting partnership with Adelaide University in assisting the refugee scholarship holders having difficulties in meeting living expenses once their Centrelink Student Allowances have been cut off. The University group of staff has asked whether COFA can also assist meeting accommodation needs as well. The COFA Committee met last Friday and discussed policy and administration requirements to present to Adelaide Uni.

Scholarships aimed at supporting tertiary education leads to Centrelink Student Allowances being stopped

This year, Adelaide University provided 40 scholarships to Refugees and Disadvantaged People which provided all tuition fees and an annual stipend of $5,000. Once scholarship holders received the stipend, Centrelink ceased payment of Student Allowances. This put them under undue pressure to earn to survive and COFA has been supporting a refugee with his living expenses. COFA alerted the University about this dilemma and contact was made with the Scholarships Office. They are looking at ways which will provide better support for all the refugee students. A meeting will be held soon to discuss ways in which COFA can cooperate with Adelaide University to support these refugee students so they can continue their studies and achieve their academic goals.