Statement of support for refugees

Published on 23 December 2020

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Nillumbik Shire Council has committed its support to a group of refugees and asylum seekers who had been detained in a hotel in Melbourne’s north for more than a year.

At its meeting last week, Council passed an Urgent Motion affirming its support for the approximately 60 men being held at the Mantra Hotel in Preston. The men have since been moved to another hotel in central Melbourne under what are believed to be similar conditions.

The men had originally been moved to the hotel in Preston from Manus Island under the Commonwealth’s now-defunct Medical Evacuation (Medevac) legislation.

Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins said Council’s show of support for the men reflected a broader philosophy and approach.

“Council has made this gesture of strong support in recognition of the plight of these men,” Cr Perkins said.

“The reaffirmation of the Nillumbik community’s willingness to help and support those doing it tough, as well as its capacity for humanity and compassion, has been one of the positives to emerge from the challenges of the past year.

“This generosity of spirit extends to fellow Nillumbik residents as well as to those beyond our borders.”

Sugarloaf Ward Councillor Ben Ramcharan, who moved the Motion as a matter of Urgent Business, said the wellbeing of those detained was paramount.

“We ask the Commonwealth Government to ensure that these men – some of whom have effectively been locked away in a hotel room for 18 months – be treated humanely and with dignity. Their living conditions and the continuing uncertainty over their futures must be addressed as a priority,” Cr Ramcharan said.

The Motion also noted that a previous Council had signed a Refugee Welcome Zone Declaration at its citizenship ceremony on 28 July 2016.