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Welcome The Asylum Seeker Parish Support
A small group, committed to improving the lives of refugees and asylum seekers, spent a lunch time writing letters to local Members of Parliament on Tuesday 5 December at the Cardinal Knox Centre in East Melbourne. 
 
The hand written letters call on Members of Parliament to bring those sent to Nauru and Manus Island to safety in Australia in a timely and humane fashion where they can have their claims processed in safety and with dignity. The letters also call for a speed up in the process for resettlement in the USA and for the Australian Government to accept the New Zealand offer to take 150 of these refugees.
 
This is an exercise that can be organised in any workplace, parish, etc. 
In the northern suburbs of Melbourne, as in many parts of the city, residents are being priced out of their local neighbourhoods. Accordingly, the need for free meals, community help and food banks is growing. In Thornbury a local initiative between the parish of St Mary’s and the Salvation Army is seeking to address this increasing need with a weekly community dinner.
Calls continue for the Australian Government to end the current crisis on Manus island.  The Archdiocese of Auckland, New Zealand, joins Catholic bodies in Australia in calling for acceptance of New Zealand's resettlement offer, as part of a full resolution for the refugees and asylum seekers.
For comprehensive updates on the grave situation on Manus Island go to the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the UNSW. Or sign up for their mailing list for a weekly round-up of national and international refugee news.

2017 was a year of great welcome and support by Melbourne parishes for asylum seekers and refugees.

The Welcome the Asylum Seeker Parish Support Program (the Welcome Program) works mainly with parishes in the Archdiocese of Melbourne to support their work with asylum seekers and refugees. The program focuses on providing practical support to asylum seekers and refugees, but this inevitably leads to advocacy as well.

 

Do you intend to write letters to your MP on burning issues, but never translate it into action? Here’s your chance! Catholic Social Services Victoria's Welcome the Asylum Seeker Parish Support Program is hosting a lunchtime letter writing session on Tuesday, 5 December 2017 in East Melbourne.
"The policy of offshore detention has cost Australia dearly. But it has cost the detainees and their families even more. I appeal to the government and political leaders to act in accordance with our honourable tradition...including accepting New Zealand’s offer of resettlement and bringing the remaining detainees on Manus Island to Australia. – Bishop Vincent Long.
The asylum seeker LINC project is a community-driven initiative, which operates within the city of Port Phillip. LINC appeals to individuals and organisations that have a passion for social justice and lending a helping hand to assist vulnerable asylum seekers living in their community. 
At our most recent forum on parish support for asylum seekers, Catholic social services reiterated its support for the Victorian Government’s assistance for asylum seekers who have been cut off from Federal Government benefits. Catholic agencies and parishes, together with many others, are already providing substantial accommodation, material aid, mental and physical health, legal and other support to this group, and to many other asylum seekers and refugees in similar circumstances. Our agencies and parishes warmly welcome this Victorian Government initiative and are keen to keep contributing themselves.
Increased education and awareness, and a united voice from churches are just some of the things that are needed to help shift public opinion and policy in supporting refugees and asylum seekers. More than 20 people gathered at the Cardinal Knox Centre in East Melbourne on 11 October to discuss how Catholic parishes can strengthen the support provided to refugees and asylum seekers living in the community.

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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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