Seeing the heart-rending and shocking images of Afghan refugees in recent months has, for many Southern Highlanders, re-ignited concern over Australia's response when people in such desperate circumstances reach our shores.
But contrary to what you might see on the television, all the action regarding refugee advocacy doesn't just happen in the city.
In fact, if you want to be part of "a passionate, committed group" who support and advocate for people who have fled their war or persecution for Australia, you can do so right here in the Southern Highlands.
"We have 96 financial members and that's growing," said Maree Byrne, convenor of the Southern Highlands branch of Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR).
"And we have 600 on our email list, many of whom are generous supporters."
RAR started in the Highlands in 2001, and 20 years later is part of a national pro-refugee network with branches all over the country.
Now, with their AGM scheduled for next Wednesday, October 20, the group is hoping to welcome new - particularly younger - members to take up the fight.
"We need more young people coming on," said deputy convenor Sarah Clutton.
"Most of the committee are much older and it gets very tiring.
"At the moment elderly members are putting in hours of support for local refugees, going to appointments and service providers with them to assist them, and it becomes quite a load.
"Some new energy into the group would be so welcome."
Comparing the start of RAR - when citizens concerned about the issue called a meeting at Bowral Memorial Hall and 500 people turned up - to the present, Ms Clutton said she thought a sense of resignation has set in.
"We're all so used to the government treating people badly - we've been worn down by their appalling treatment," she said.
RAR is involved in broad campaigns - at the moment there is one calling on the government to increase the Afghan refugee intake from 3,000 to 20,000 - but also take on a very personal role in the re-settlement of refugees here in the Highlands.
"We have eight families we take care of here," said Ms Byrne.
"Much of the help is negotiating bureaucracy, especially Centrelink, where they can sometimes get cut off for no reason and have to wait six weeks for it to be re-instated, with no back pay."
The group also spend time shopping and sharpening conversational English with the refugees, who come from countries such as Sri Lanka, Burma, Sudan and Iran.
These people who have fled war or persecution have ended up in the Southern Highlands thanks to the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) system, which offers them a five year temporary visa if they come to the regions (they must have a job or a child at school in the area), two years more than the regular Temporary Protection Visa (TPV).
"No refugee would come here willingly when in the city they can have better services, cheaper rent, and be part of a community from their home country," Ms Byrne said, adding that they need even more support in rural Australia as a result.
But it's practically impossible to move off the SHEV or TPV onto a permanent visa, meaning they are locked out of access to higher education, among other things.
The constant paperwork and sense of insecurity mean many live in a state of stress, if not despair.
"We can't repair the harm from the country of origin, but we're causing so much more harm with the system of temporary visas," Ms Byrne said.
- To join the AGM, please send a membership request to firstname.lastname@example.org
RAR formerly raised money to support the local families through fundraising events, which have been off the table for almost two years now.
But they now have a date in the calendar for a screening of Rosemary's Way, a film that celebrates Rosemary Kariuki and the group of vulnerable migrant women of suburban Sydney whose lives she helps transform from isolation to connection, for which she received the Australian of the Year - Local Hero award.
Rosemary Kariuki will be present at the screening for a Q and A event afterwards.
The film will be shown on Tuesday, February 15, from 7pm at Empire Cinemas Bowral.
For more information, click here.
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