Hello to all our supporters,

As you would no doubt have heard by now, the Pontville Detention Centre (Pontville IDC) is re-opening.

We know that last time, our regular visits kept hope and humanity alive for many asylum seekers in detention.  Because of our large volunteer support base, we were able to create a group that became recognised nationally as a model of community engagement - and I know we can do it again.

Volunteers - old and new

The first thing we need is volunteers.

We have decided to start our database afresh, so ALL volunteers (old and new), need to fill in this super-easy online form: HERE:

If you can’t commit to being a volunteer, please ask your friends and colleagues.  Every new volunteer is one more friend for an asylum seeker in a desperate position.

Just like last time, volunteering will take a little while to get started.  SERCO will have new staff, who will take time to get workshops up and running; and we will need to start the process of collecting names and ID numbers of detainees who have requested a visitor.  If you sign up as a volunteer, you can expect to attend a training in early February, and meet your buddy in the month or so thereafter.

New Positions With TASS

However, unlike last time, this time I have a much better idea of what I’m getting myself in for!  And for that reason, TASS is also recruiting a core unit of volunteers who can fulfil the following roles:

1. Events manager: You will need to co-ordinate the training sessions and monthly meetings held by TASS, which are an essential part of our support for volunteers.  This will include jobs like booking venues, organising guest speakers, photocopying training packages, and taking minutes at the meetings.  (It does not matter if you are not a visitor to the centre yourself).

2. Volunteer co-ordinator: This will involve matching volunteers from the database with detainees inside the centre, and answering email queries from volunteer buddies. This job requires only a small amount of time most days, but you must be consistent and committed, as it is the core of our program. 

3. Media support: If you can string a sentence together, keep up with the news, and can make tactful comments on highly political issues without inciting riots, TASS needs someone to do media support, such as updating the facebook page, writing for our website, and occasionally speaking to the media (although not on live-to-air radio or TV) or speaking to school / church groups.  We also need help producing and printing some simple promotional posters / leaflets which explain what we do and how to get involved.

4. Counsellor: Last time, we were able to offer free counselling support to our volunteers, thanks to a trained counsellor who offered her time to anyone needing to debrief after a trip to Pontville.  Unfortunately, she is no longer available, so we are seeking someone with counselling training to make themselves available if needed.  (You may well find that you are required only occasionally, if at all: but it’s good to know we have someone to fulfil this role if necessary).

Please email me (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) if you would be able to fulfil any (or even just a part) of the above roles.  Your support in this area would make TASS a much more sustainable and stable organisation. Thank you.

Other News

Anna Reynolds and the Tasmanian Greens have launched a Christmas Appeal which is collecting items for asylum seekers in detention at Pontville.  Thanks, Anna!  Appropriate items include books, CDs, DVDs, jigsaws and games. The Tasmanian Greens ‘Green Shop’ at 208 Elizabeth Street will be the collection point for people who would like to donate to this Christmas Appeal. Donations need to be dropped at the shop between 10am – 5pm Monday – Friday before 14 December.  For more information contact Anna Reynolds on 0423 222 149 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The Hobart branch of Amnesty is re-convening its Refugee Action group to campaign on human rights issues that affect refugees and asylum seekers.  If you are interested in supporting Amnesty in this way, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to discuss.

All in all, we have some exciting months ahead of us!  Please feel free to distribute this email among your networks to ensure that TASS re-booted is a resounding success!

Yours Sincerely,

Emily Conolan
Founder, Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support (TASS)

Earlier on Tasmanian Times, James Dryburgh: Brighton’s open Hand