How You Can Help The Refugees On Manus Island

How You Can Help The Refugees On Manus Island
Image: Getty

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding on Manus Island, where more than 600 people remain at a now shuttered detention facility cut off from water, food, power and important medications and health services. Most of these people have already been found to be refugees. Watching this entirely avoidable disaster of the Australian government’s creation, it’s easy to feel both helpless and culpable as an Australian resident. Here’s how you can take action.

If you haven’t kept up with what’s been happening at Manus Island’s doomed detention centre, you can read first-hand accounts from journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani, who has been chronicling the situation for The Guardian from inside the camp.

The Australian Government has shut off all services to the camp, despite the remaining men having no safe place to go. The camp is being returned to the PNG Navy, who have threatened to remove occupants by force if neccessary – but alternative lodgings offered do not have adequate resources or security to protect refugees from locals who have attacked Manus detainees before. Here’s what Australians should do about it.

Call Your MPs

This is the most important action you can take. While we can’t do anything directly to end the suffering on Manus Island, your MPs can. These are the people who are supposed to act on our behalf, so we should be letting them know what action you want them to take.

First, contact your local member, who you can find details for here. Calling is preferable, but if you don’t want to make a phone call you can also contact them via email.

When you call, state your name, state and electorate (you can find your electorate here if you’re unsure). Write a short script of everything you want to say before you make the call – first off, ask to speak to the MP directly or ask to leave a message for them. Make your concerns heard. The ASRC has an in-depth guide to making a call to your MP if you’re unsure what to say.

Afterwards, follow up. Tweet or make a Facebook post outlining the MP’s response to your message, tagging them in the post. Keep them accountable.

You can also call other politicians to make sure your message is heard. You can contact Malcolm Turnbull’s office on (02) 6277 7700, Julie Bishop on (02) 6277 7500, Bill Shorten on (02) 6277 4022, Tanya Plibersek on (02) 6277 4404 or Peter Dutton on (02) 6277 7860.

Again, make sure you tell them your name, state and electorate at the beginning of the call.

Donate For Emergency Supplies

You can donate directly to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre to provide aid to refugees on Manus Island.

The charity Gifts For Manus And Nauru has set up an emergency fund to provide the neccessities – food and water – for those trapped on Manus Island. If you want to take more direct action, donating here will help provide essential supplies to refugees in an incredibly dangerous situation.

GFMAN also runs a donation pool to help provide phone credit to refugees, keeping them in touch with friends and family and other support from services in Australia. While food and water are the priorities right now, keeping the men on Manus Island connected and keeping the world aware of what is happening there is more vital than ever.

Make Sure Your Voice Is Heard

Even if you’ve done all this, never stop making noise about the humanitarian crisis created by the Australian government. Encourage your friends and families to call MPs or donate to refugee services. Post on Twitter, Facebook or any other social network about the issues – making sure to use hashtags related to the campaign like #WeAreWatching, #IAmWatching, #BringThemHere or #EvacuateNow. If you’re worried about being called out as a hashtag activist, remember that making noise is still more helpful than staying silent on issues like these.

A number of rallies are being held across Australia if you want to take your action to the streets. Junkee has rounded up most of the rallies taking place across Australia, and if there’s nothing nearby you can always organise a photo within your workplace or community to share across social media.


  • Far as i knew it was the do-gooders that wanted to force the government to close the center that housed the que jumpers, who wanted to jump the que at the expense of those who were prepared to wait that bear the responsibility now.
    Government basically said “screw you if you want to make it even more difficult for yourselves and those housed in far better conditions than the locals” we’ll leave you to it , now your jumping up and down like the spoiled brat in the shopping isle who’s mum said cant have the lolly.

    • The PNG government ruled that housing the refugees contravened their constitution. As the detention centre is in their country, and governed by their laws, Australia needs to abide by this ruling. The “do gooders” that you refer to wanted the camps closed and, most importantly, the 1200 or so refugees resettled here.

      The queue that you refer to doesn’t actually exist. It’s not as if there’s a nice, orderly line of displaced people waiting to be resettled in safe countries. Take a look at Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya for instance, some of the people that live there have been wiating for resettlement for more than 20 years. If you were in the shoes of an asylum seeker would you go to a UNHCR camp and wait around for 20+ years in the hope of maybe one day being resettled somewhere, or would you go out of your way to ensuring that you to a safe country?

      In case you didn’t know their are currently more displaced people in the world than at any time since World War Two and Australia certainly isn’t pulling its weight in addressing this global problem. Especially since it seems intent upon signing the death warrants of these 600 or so people trapped on Manus.

  • There is a food donation bin outside my one of local supermarkets for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. I always donate a can of Spam every time I shop there.

  • Should have sent them home to start with. Indonesia is a safe place and they passed straight through in the hopes of reaching our welfare payments and do-gooders.

    • @silkillion, I’m sorry that you appear to be so ignorant about this issue. Here is some useful information you might bring to future conversations on this topic:
      – Refugees cannot stay in Indonesia because Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention.
      – There is no requirement in international law for refugees to seek asylum in the first country they come to. (In fact, international law requires that asylum seekers should not be penalised according to the way in which they enter a country).
      – Refugees, like migrants, create demand for goods and services, thus stimulating the economy and generating growth and employment.

      I can only assume you feel threatened by these vulnerable people that the Australian Government is mistreating. What, exactly, is making you so afraid?

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!