CHILDREN detained on Nauru island after fleeing their homeland, seeking asylum in Australia, will have their desperate living conditions brightened by the goodwill of the Mullumbimby community this Christmas.
The Mullumbimby Loves Refugees group has gathered nearly four cubic metres of toys, games and art materials to be distributed to the estimated 193 children held in detention on the South Pacific island.
The goods were donated by local families, individuals, schools and businesses and dropped off at various collection points across the shire during November and this week were being boxed up to be sent to Melbourne-based Save the Children Australia who will distribute the toys in Nauru.
"Mullumbimby Loves Refugees was launched in early October when over 200 people attended a film screening and talk," Bobbi Allan from Mullumbimby Loves Refugees said.
"We feel disgusted and disenfranchised by Australia's cruel and senseless refugee and asylum seeker policies.
"Rather than feel powerlessness, we have started this local grass roots movement. We hope it will spread to other suburbs and regions around Australia.
"We set the toy appeal at this time because Christmas is the season for giving.
"These children are living in army tents with very few facilities. They are being treated with unnecessary harshness.
"We hope the gifts show there is kindness from the Australian people and that we are thinking of them."
Mullumbimby Loves Refugees' next project will be to raise funds for Communify, a Brisbane-based support group for refugee claimants and asylum seekers.
"These are people who apply for asylum once they arrive in Australia. A bridging visa allows them to remain in Australia legally while their application for refugee status is assessed," Mrs Allan said.
"However, if this application is not made within 45 days of arrival in Australia (even if they had a current visa), they are denied access to a work permit. This means they have no Medicare, support through Centrelink, access to language classes or resettlement assistance and no income whatsoever for an average of 18 months while they await a decision."
At a glance
Mullumbimby Loves Refugees is holding a raffle to raise funds for Communify.
1st: Double VIP 4 Day Pass to the Falls Music and Arts festival @ Byron Bay - Value: $834.00
2nd: Gorgeous gifts from - Brauer Birds, Eco Minerals, Rowie, Goddess of Babylon, Melissa Hirsh and The Bangalow Pharmacy - Value: $550
3rd: Picnic hamper - Myrtle and Dove, Refreshed, Inside Africa, Lentilicious and Cuban Pink - Value: $400
4th: Baby Basket - Paper Wings, Lucy Vanstone ceramics, Into the Woods, Melissa
Hirsh: Value $200
The raffle will be drawn on December 16.
For details on where to buy tickets, visit the Mullumbimby Loves Refugees Facebook page: facebook.com/mullumbimbylovesrefugees