Sandra Hawker: Refugees & people seeking asylum in rural & regional NSW.
Sandra is the NSW coordinator of Home Among the Gum Trees, a program of free, short-term holidays in rural and regional NSW for people seeking asylum in Australia. After its first successful year in 2016 Home Among the Gum Trees aims to continue to make a positive contribution to the lives of those asylum seekers living in NSW, to give them some respite from their everyday lives and make them feel warmly welcomed by ordinary Australians.
Workshop brief: Refugees & people seeking asylum in rural & regional NSW.
Overview of current government refugee policy in general; Policy implementation in rural areas in NSW; Role of Home Among the Gum Trees program; It is hoped that recent Iranian refugee Nazanin will share her and her daughters’ experiences as part of this workshop.
Asylum seekers and refugees have influenced and informed Sandra’s work throughout her life, as a teacher in the public education system in the 1970’s, as a caseworker and administrator in community organisations dealing with the Departments of Immigration and Social Security in the 1980’s, and later as a conciliator of a range of human rights-based disputes in a number of organisations, including the Australian Human Rights Commission.
From the 1960’s on, Sandra has taken an active part in the movements opposed to successive Australian governments’ policy of support for and participation in wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, wars that have helped cause large numbers of people to flee violence, death and turmoil in their homelands in search of peace in another country.
After retiring from conciliation in 2010 Sandra worked for a year as a volunteer in Melbourne’s pivotal and influential Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Sandra believes that seeking asylum is a human right, and the treatment of asylum seekers is a moral and legal issue, and should not be a political one. People who seek asylum in Australia should have their claims processed fairly and expeditiously, according to the international protocols that Australia has signed.
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