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It’s time for policy change: call from parishes working with asylum seekers

Call from parish groups who support asylum seekers: 

 It’s time for a change in Asylum Seeker and Refugee policy

At this time of change in Australian politics, it’s time to change our approach to refugees and people seeking asylum.

 This was a call from more than 60 people from 20 Melbourne Catholic parishes on Saturday 25 August.  They were gathered for the 14th Welcome the Asylum Seeker Parish Support forum

 The Parishes that gathered listened to asylum seekers; shared their own experience of working with people seeking asylum; and heard from experts such as Sr Brigid Arthur from the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project and Phil Glendenning from the Edmund Rice Centre about the need that exists in our own communities and the areas for improvement in our national policy settings. 

 It was a very rich and encouraging encounter.  In the words of Adrian Foley, Coordinator of the Welcome the Asylum Seeker Parish Support Program,’ all parishes in some way or another can help refugees and people seeking asylum.’ 

 There are already around 30 Catholic parishes in Melbourne that have formal support arrangements for refugees and people seeking asylum in place, and a further 40 that have some level of involvement.  Those at the forum were inspired and resourced to continue this effort, and their learnings will be shared more widely.

 Urgent calls were made to provide financial support for those in Australia seeking asylum who are in need   - ‘status resolution support service’ cut backs cause vulnerable people to suffer.

The group also called for changes to Government policy – characterised by Phil as ‘calculated cruelty for domestic political gain’ – so that we can again respect the human dignity and basic rights of all who seek our protection, more focused on the good of all, and to better reflect the desperate need of those seeking asylum.

·         greater support for ‘durable solutions’, with support for people in countries of first refuge, and to enable safe return to their homes

·         End permanent off shore processing, and re-settle Asylum Seekers and Refugees on Manus Island and Nauru

·         a larger and more responsive refugee program

·         Provide permanent protection rather than Temporary Protection Visas, which prolong the agony of uncertainty; and enable family reunion for those given residence.

·         focus on better regional settlement solutions

Denis Fitzgerald | Executive Director | Catholic Social Services Victoria | tel 0418 136 372



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