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03 December 2004 @ 11:02 pm
thankyou to distantsun for letting me repost this here  
dear lovelies,

i know we have all been posting our christmas wishlists around lately, but instead of posting mine, i thought i would post and encourage you to do this, from distantsun and roslyn's journals.

Gifts for Asylum Seekers

A bit of background for non-Aussies: for the past 10 or 12 years, Australia has had a policy of mandatory detention for 'illegal' asylum seekers, that is, people who enter the country without visas claiming refugee status. These people are then held while their refugee applications are processed (often for years at a time), irrespective of age. As a result there are now a number of children being held in detention centres around Australia, and in Nauru, whose experience of Australian culture has thus far been limited to their contact with detention centre staff.

However you feel about the detention centres, or about immigration issues generally, these children are here because of circumstances beyond their control, and they are living in conditions which are totally unsuitable for young, developing human beings. They have limited opportunities to interact with other children, to play outside, and to otherwise enjoy their childhood in all the ways we usually take for granted.

Anyway, the point of the email I got today was to say that it is possible to send gifts to these children for Christmas. Of all the people who deserve our generosity - and for whom it would make a real difference - children in detention have to be right up there.

If you're not in Australia (and I realise that many of you aren't), I am sure that there are many charities in your area that help out underprivileged children. But if you are in Australia, as my Christmas wish this year, I ask all of you to consider sending something to a child in detention.

Suggested gifts for children include:

Reading material
Puzzle, colouring and activity books
Stuffed toy animals
Crayons, pencils, marking pens, paints, paintbrushes
Games like UNO, cards, quoits, board games
Toy cars (plastic 10-20cm)
Toy animals
Rubber balls, tennis balls, soccer balls
Sporting magazines

For adults:

Hard sweets
Reading materials (novels, non-fiction)
Games (cards, chess sets, backgammon, checkers, other board games)
Sunhats, t-shirts, shorts
Light scarves and tights
Bolts of cloth (4m lengths for making clothes)
Dress patterns and clothes patterns

General guidelines:

Any item which can be fashioned into a weapon or missile is not appropriate.
The presents need to be new not used, old or stained.
The presents need to be sent unwrapped so they can be inspected. They will then be wrapped within the centres prior to distribution.
If sending clothing, please consider the climate of the destination before purchasing clothes or fabrics. Port Augusta, Christmas Island and Nauru are hot and humid.
If inappropriate presents are received they will be donated to local charities for distribution to families in need.


Please send gifts and wrapping paper to any of the following addresses.



The 16 children here are all Afghani and Iraqi.

The Children
Statehouse Camp
Central Pacific

Specific gift suggestions for the detainees on Nauru include Telstra PhoneAway phonecards (please contact me for more details - these must be sent to specific detainees, not as part of a package), music CDs, puzzles, dolls, make-up, persian spices and advanced lego.


New South Wales - Villawood Detention Centre

Large centre with families and children.

Michelle Sruhan
Programs Manager
Villawood IDC
PO Box 413
Chester Hill NSW 2162


Western Australia - Christmas Island Detention Centre

Medium centre with families and children. Children are Vietnamese and have been detained since June 2003.

Charlene Thompson
PO Box 679
Christmas Island WA 6798


Victoria - Maribyrnong Detention Centre

Small centre with families and children.

Programs Coordinator
Maribyrnong IDC
GPO Box 241E
Melbourne VIC 3001


South Australia - Baxter Detention Centre and Port Augusta Housing Project

Large centre with families and children and residential housing project.

Bernadette Wauchope
Port Pirie Rural Australian for Refugees
9 Dunkley Street
Pt Pirie SA 5540

You can also send cash directly to Bernadette and she will buy specific items needed by families - contact me and I will pass on her details.


More detailed info is also available at
http://www.chilout.org/activities/gifts_for_kids.html and

i brought the cutest, softest teddy bear from myer to send over {probably to baxter, since it's in my state} last night. i hope it puts a smile on some little kid's face christmas day.

christmas should be magical for everyone.

Roslynroslyn on December 3rd, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC)
Ah, how I love my friends of friends list. :)
Thanks so much for posting this - even if only a few of us do it, it will make a big difference. The teddy bear sounds lovely!
Cristal Dawncrizzles on December 3rd, 2004 01:45 pm (UTC)
That was so nice of you to buy a teddy bear for the children. I am buying a gift for the local christmas tree charity that gives gifts to less privledged kids... i'll probably get a My Little Pony for a little girl :D
fructiferousfructiferous on December 3rd, 2004 10:13 pm (UTC)
i will try this again now that i can, you know, type. :)

this is a lovely idea. i was disgusted to hear people i worked with this week say "they come here and we give them money." why shouldn't we? they are people- are they less because they had to flee their home? but i just said, "no we don't, they come here and we lock them up."

mum worked at a migration community legal service, which, basically, offered free legal advice to asylum seekers. i have never seen my mother so involved in anything like she was in that, and as a result of seeing that, and of knowing what she was doing, i feel strongly about this now.

some of the most gracious, most humble, most accepting people i have ever met in my life were a family from iraq. they had fled because they were part of a religious minority that was being picked off. the father of this family is a doctor, his wife is an architect, their children are polite, intelligent and so beautiful. they got rid of everything they had and got on a boat, not because they thought it would be a cushy holiday and a great way to "jump the queue" (whatever the hell that means). they did it because they had to, because getting out of a country and into another legitimately as a refugee takes time, and time is what they did not have.

they were locked up in the port headland detention centre for (i think) two years. in that time they were treated as secondary citizens. they were unable to try to contact home or speak to the media. any stories you hear about them being treated better than most australians is bullcrap- they would trade it for the ability to work, to pay for their own home, send their children to school, contact family members who may or may not be alive, etc.

philip ruddock was scheduled to visit this detention centre. the night before he was due to arrive, the guards at the centre went through, smashing up the bathrooms etc, and when the minister arrived, they said, "look what these people did." i believe this, because not only did it come consistently and from a group of good people, but also a five year old girl.

my mother handled their case once they were out of detention, and we went to visit them (she often became close with her clients) and my heart was warmed by them. don't listen to these stories of intolerance- these people sat and listened while mum spoke about becoming buddhist, genuinely interested. the man would speak to his wife in their first language, and then he would turn to me and explain, "sorry, i'm just explaining to her because her english isn't as good as mine."

they were not allowed to work when i met them. this man is a doctor- we are bussing in doctors from all over the world because we're so desperate, when there are probably hundreds sitting around, unable to work, wanting desperately to, right under our noses!

detention centres are digusting places. good people are imprisoned because they did what they had to. i know you know this. :) i think sending them gifts, cash or even just letters of support would be so well appreciated. more than anything else, they need to know that we do not all hate them (as they are told) because if they have hope, they can survive this.
    scarlet's walkkisstheviolets on December 3rd, 2004 10:44 pm (UTC)
thankyou so much for sharing this {and the comment before it too, i appreciate both of them}. it is definitely a different way of seeing what is happening there in those detention centres instead of the way it is being reported. it makes me so sad, i don't understand how we can treat other people that way.
ex_snowcanwa171 on December 9th, 2004 01:56 am (UTC)

God, there are too many detention centres to choose from. Which ones did you send presents to?

(thanks for posting this, hon - i'm definitely participating)

    scarlet's walkkisstheviolets on December 9th, 2004 08:29 am (UTC)
just baxter - since it's in my state, and all.
i only sent 1 present, because i'd already gotten things for the kmart wishing tree as well :X but i'll see how i go before christmas