Despite the shocking situation on Manus Island, Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Control, gave clearance for the Music for Refugees organisation to send 3 cartons of music instruments to the detainees at Nauru.
“Refugees and asylum seekers have enormous stress and music is a great reliever” said Philip Feinstein, manager of the Music for Refugees organisation.
Destined for Nauru are the following instruments: One large keyboard, One large xylophone, 4 x adult guitars, 2 x child guitars, 2 x ukuleles, 2 x clarinets, 2 x violins, 2 x recorders, sheet music.
Music for Refugees has been giving musical instruments to refugees and asylum seekers throughout Australia for the past nine years – see www.musicforrefugees.org
The principal of the organisation has also conducted jam sessions and music lessons for refugees incarcerated at Villawood Detention Centre and other refugee centres for many years.
His organisation accepts donated instruments from the public and have them repaired when necessary. “Many of the instruments arrive in poor condition, so we fund the repairing of them,” said Feinstein, a musician and former refugees himself.
Although the conditions at Nauru are not nearly as bad as Manus Island, Feinstein decided to write directly to Peter Dutton with the hope of securing a positive result.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the quick response,” he said. “In my letter to him, I pointed out that music played will bring about a positive response and enormous release from the mundane and boring existence on the island.”
The majority of refugees come from Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka. Currently, there are approximately 540 Asylum seekers and refugees (including 70 children) in detention in Nauru.
The new government managing organisation Canstruct, responsible for the shipping of goods to Nauru, was given clearance by the Department of Immigration and Border Control to deliver this consignment at no cost to Music for Refugees.
The instruments were picked up 2 weeks ago from the Music for Refugees headquarters and delivered to Nauru last week.
Philip Feinstein does not get involved in the political side of the things and has stated that he prefers to concentrate on the small picture, i.e. the refugees themselves.
Minister Dutton’s office has stated that he ‘appreciated the time you have taken to bring this matter to his attention’.
Feinstein now intends to focus his attention on instruments for the detainees at Manus Island.