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Welcome The Asylum Seeker Parish Support
Volunteers are vital to our work in supporting parishes and social services agencies who assist the most vulnerable in our community. We're hoping to welcome a new volunteer to our team, to assist us in providing support to Catholic parishes as centres of service and outreach. Areas where particular help is needed include:
 
* parish liaison and relationship building, including communication with parishes about forthcoming events
* Researching and writing article for our website, newsletters and parish forums
* Organising and assisting with the delivery of Welcome the Asylum Seeker forums and Re-imagining Parish Service Expos. 
 
Download flyer here.
Catholic parishes play an important role in supporting and serving the most vulnerable within their local communities. Whether it be in the assistance of material, financial or relational support to newly arrived asylum seekers, or being aware and knowing what to do in the situations of family and domestic violence, or reaching out to an elderly or isolated neighbour, we all have a role to play in bringing to life the Gospel message.


On Sunday 21 May 2017 Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced an October 1 deadline for 7,500 asylum seekers yet to apply for refugee status, or face deportation. Mr Dutton said many asylum seekers were “fake refugees taking the system for a ride”. Melinda Jackson, Principal Solicitor with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's Human Rights Law Program said this latest policy change by the Government risks forcing people to lodge their applications without getting critical legal assistance.
 
Read the full letter here.

Recently asylum seekers have been demonised as “fake refugees” taking advantage of Australia’s generosity. 7,500 people seeking asylum have until October to apply for temporary protection or face deportation. Sector experts Sr Brigid Arthur and Paris Aristotle AO will indicate ways for parishes to assist people in need and contribute to more humane policies. In November 2016, Paris was named as the 2017 Victorian Australian of the Year at a ceremony at Government House.

 
The Department of Immigration and Border Control is currently undertaking its annual review of the Humanitarian Programme, to consider the size and composition of intakes of refugees under the Programme.
 
Catholic Social Services with several member agencies have lodged a Submission to the Review, as has member organisation, Jesuit Social Services. Three Members of Parliament, Tim Watts MP, Labor, Andrew Broad MP, Nationals and Russell Broadbent MP, Liberal have called upon the government to increase community sponsorship of refugees within the Programme.
 
Member organisation Edmund Rice Centre has released a statement denouncing the government's latest decision to set a timeline on the lodgement for protection for refugees and people seeking asylum. In its statement, the ERC wrote "Peter Dutton has launched yet another unfair and cruel attack on refugees and people seeking asylum".
Freedom Stories provides a welcome respite from the hysteria surrounding asylum seekers, taking a considered and poignant approach to the lives and achievements of former ‘boat people’ who now call Australia home. Award-winning documentary maker Steve Thomas (Hope) explores the stories of people who arrived from the Middle East around 2001, some just children at the time. 
St Mary’s Parish in Dandenong hosts the Too Low in English Program, which aims to assist asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. Originally started by Norah McCluskey 13 years ago, Colin Maslen has been running the program for the past two years. One of its volunteers, Celine Tauro, was awarded Volunteer of the Year in the Greater Dandenong Australia Day honours this year.
 
In addition to the 17,000+ volunteers that contribute to the work of our member organisations, Catholic Social Services Victoria, as a peak body, relies on volunteers for some of our advocacy and organisational work. We would be much less productive, and less effective, without volunteer input on our committees and working groups, in organising our forums for parishes and agencies, in drafting our various advocacy papers, etc.  We are in their debt.
 
We currently have a vacancy for a volunteer to assist with our parish support work.

Our request to Mr Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, is that detention centres safeguard the dignity, wellbeing and personal security of their residents. Click here for our letter; and here for an uninspiring response from Australia Border Force.  A subsequent referral to the Ombudsman has resulted in their deciding to investigate our concerns about human rights.

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Catholic Social Services Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Elders in each of the Communities where we work.
 
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