From left to right Gabby Sutherland, Harriot Beazley, Tammy Brock and Clare Phyland at a refugee sausage sizzle in Noosa.
From left to right Gabby Sutherland, Harriot Beazley, Tammy Brock and Clare Phyland at a refugee sausage sizzle in Noosa.

Taking refuge in online funding lifeline

A NOOSA refugee advocate and her supporters are not letting the shutdown of fundraising events prevent them from extending a helping hand out to the displaced people they are dedicated to finding new places of asylum.

But founder of Noosa Welcomes Refugees Gabby Sutherland admits its all about embracing technology rather than making physical contact where the old days of pressing the flesh in public by the Sunshine Coast Refugee Action Network have been ended by coronavirus.

“We had a number of events organised, including art exhibitions and had just started selling tickets for our main raffle for the year, when all the events had to be put on hold,” Gabby said.

“It’s not all bad news though, as it’s forcing us to look at new ways of doing things”.

SCRAN includes Amnesty Sunshine Coast, Buddies Refugee Support Group, Noosa Welcomes Refugees and Welcome to Maleny.

Recently these groups teamed up with Ads-Up, a group of Australians in Canada, to sponsor a refugee from Nauru to resettle in Canada.

‘Sam’ is a young Iranian who Gabby taught on Nauru, after arriving in Australia seeking asylum at the age of 15 and was forced into a lengthy detention.

Gabby said of the $20,000 sponsorship funding raised, more than $6000 was donated online by Sunshine Coast supporters.

“The Sunshine Coast Refugee Action Network has traditionally raised funds through sausage sizzles and other face-to-face events,” she said.

“With the need for social distancing, these are no longer an option, so the network has had to look for innovative ways to support refugees.”
“We’re having our next meeting via Zoom and we have now put our raffle tickets online,” she said.

The first prize is framed art work by Sunshine Coast artist Katharine Nix.

“We just need to get the word out and get people to the website to buy tickets – which are only $5.”

The funds raised by the raffle will help support refugees in South East Queensland, who have lost income due to the pandemic, and also towards sponsoring more refugees from Nauru to resettle in Canada.

For information about getting involved with refugee advocacy and to buy raffle tickets visit https://www.refugeebuddies.org/