After nine long years, the Australian Government has accepted New Zealand’s long-standing offer of resettling refugees trapped in Australia’s cruel offshore detention regime.
Craig Foster, former Socceroo’s captain and a human rights advocate, has worked tirelessly with Amnesty and #GameOver partners to establish precedents for safe, long-term and sustainable resettlement options for refugees.
Last month, the Australian Government confirmed it had agreed ‘in principle’ to the New Zealand offer. Now, Australia has officially accepted New Zealand’s resettlement offer for refugees detained in Australia’s offshore detention regime.
A note from Craig to the supporters of #GameOver:
Together, you’ve stood with us for justice, freedom, hope and dignity. You supported us to travel to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and all around the country, meeting decision makers and people with lived experience, advocating for change.
You’ve consistently raised your voices against consecutive Australian Governments who have treated refugees with nothing short of contempt, and together, we’ve won.
Back in October of 2019, I travelled to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to meet with refugees sent to Manus Island by the Australian Government. That’s where I met Moz, an incredible human being whose courage and persistence inspires me everyday. Moz was transferred to Australia from Papua New Guinea for urgent medical treatment, and has been a brave voice of the #GameOver campaign. I couldn’t have imagined then, that on the day of this announcement, I would be standing next to him, on his birthday of all days, celebrating with him.
In response to the news, Moz had this to say, “Today is an incredible victory for human rights, and the best birthday present ever. This is the news we’ve been hoping for”.
And Moz is right.
Since the start of the #GameOver campaign, the Australian Government has gone from outright refusal, to consideration, negotiation and now acceptance.
This is a huge win for people power, and highlights that when we stand up collectively and demand change, we can make a difference.
What we now know is that negotiations between the Australian and New Zealand Governments began only two days after Sonny Bill Williams and I, along with the Amnesty team, travelled to New Zealand to raise the matter with Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern during their annual leaders meeting.
Our message, demanding that Scott Morrison and the Australian Government accept the New Zealand offer was in print, on the airwaves, and on TV screens throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Because of this, we had a reach of over 217 million people. 217 million people who understood that it was time to put an end to the cruelty, and who were willing to demand Scott Morrison and the Australian Government do something about it.
But it’s important we hold Scott Morrison and the Australian Government to account on their commitments, and more importantly, we hold them accountable.
Because the reality is that people have had years of their lives taken from them needlessly. The Australian Government could have accepted this offer nine years ago and spared people the trauma of this experience. Instead, people have suffered.
What we also know from today’s announcement is that the deal will see 450 refugees resettled over three years. If all those spaces are filled, it still leaves a shortfall of approximately 500 people who will still require permanent resettlement solutions.
We welcome this deal, but it can and must be expanded.