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Welcome The Asylum Seeker Parish Support
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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As we reflect on the Easter story, let us pray that Easter blessings will flow to all people seeking asylum. In his presentation at our March Forum, Phil Glendenning AM captivated the audience with statements such as "Leadership requires voices to be heard and that’s where people in parish groups come into play. (Parishes) need to say we’ve got to stop treating these people cruelly."

"We have to advocate for the change we want to see, that will provide hope for people." Together, let's do this in the year ahead.
Download our Welcome Newsletter for Easter 2017.

St Bridget’s, Greythorn, Refugee Action Committee prepared this report, which demonstrates how 2016 was a remarkable year of action in response to Pope Francis' call for each parish to "Welcome the Stranger In your midst", and to assist a refugee family.  In January, a partnership was consolidated with St Dominic’s in Camberwell, who agreed to provide 50% of rental assistance for a family. Our members participated in a CatholicCare training program in March which challenged us to think carefully about our role in aiding asylum seekers.
CAPSA (Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum) has released a Toolkit for Refugee Action, which includes three actions that parishes and groups can undertake to  support refugees and people seeking asylum: Circles of Silence, #RightTrack Community Conversations and guidelines for Meetings with members of parliament. One of the most effective ways you can advocate for people seeking asylum is to visit your local MPs and let them know what you think.  Click here for the Toolkit.

On Sunday, 9 April 2017 thousands walked in solidarity for refugees, despite dire weather forecasts. 200 people met initially at St Patrick's Cathedral for prayer, led by Fr Joe Caddy, Episocal Vicar for Social Services.

Come and walk in solidarity with parishes, organisations and many others Walking for Justice for refugees and people seeking asylum.  Last year an estimated 15,000 people attended the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice. Come and hear about the current needs and priorities of people seeking asylum and what is being done to support them. 

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Catholic Social Services Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Elders in each of the Communities where we work. Click for our Reconciliation Vision
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