Australia has a new Prime Minister.
More than 1200 refugees are still detained on Manus Island and Nauru. All are suffering severe psychological trauma and most have serious physical health conditions as well, including infections, kidney disease, untreated injuries and untreated cancer. Many have been beaten and violently sexually attacked.
Public knowledge has increased through work of activists and some media outlets.
The Federal government continues to use the courts to try to block efforts to provide health care to the refugees. There are several class actions being taken on behalf of the refugees.
Activists and the refugees themselves continue to try to end the stalemate through protests, publications, meetings, art projects, fundraising and advertising.
I stopped writing the letters to the PM early in 2018 for two reasons. The first was that as people heard about my project and observed my public protests they wanted to become involved. I started two street vigils on the South Coast of WA, at Albany and Denmark. People became informed and started their own projects to assist the refugees, most notably Dawn Barrington whose documentary about her trip to Manus Island can be seen here. The second reason I stopped writing was lack of time. I was invited to take part in several art exhibitions in 2018 which I could use as a platform to bring the plight of the refugees and the actions of Australia before the exhibition audiences.
Writing the letters was an act of witness and an attempt for justice. It enabled me to learn about Australia’s ongoing mistreatment of refugees. It also became a deep grounding for taking further actions and for informing my art practice. The letters document the deliberate running down and destruction of the Lombrun Reprocessing Centre on Manus Island (which has since been completely demolished), the forced removal of the men, five further deaths, and the removal of services from both Manus and Nauru which has left the refugees struggling to survive. The struggle for their freedom and justice continues.