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Fair Treatment For Asylum Seekers and Refugees

At the May 2019 Federal Elections, the Coalition parties won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, and while short of an outright majority in the Senate, have secured a strong position from which to govern for the next three years.
 
How asylum seekers are treated is a political, social and moral issue – political because politicians have used the treatment of refugees as a very effective tool to polarise public attitudes and achieve political success; social because we see ourselves and our society reflected in the way we treat refugees; and moral because the treatment Australia has meted out to refugees has often been unfair, unjust, morally wrong.
 
The electoral security delivered to the Government by the recent Elections presents an opportunity for our politicians to stop using refugees as pawns in a gruesome game of who can be toughest and nastiest. It is time to extend peace and compassion towards refugees, and to allow the Australian people to return to our better natures, and to give refugees, at last, a fair go.
 
We have seen asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island attempting suicide since the Elections, as they face a future without hope. The Refugee Council of Australia estimates there are still 915 asylum seekers and refugees on Manus and Nauru.
 
In Australia, there are many thousands of people who arrived by boat before 2014 still awaiting decisions of their applications for protection, the so-called “legacy caseload”, while thousands more await the outcome of the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA) process. Thousands more again have been accepted as refugees, and placed on Temporary Protection Visas and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas on the presumption that they may be returned to their countries of origin at some point in the future. In the meantime they cannot be reunited with their families, their lives are on hold. This is causing untold misery and mental breakdown to many thousands of people who did no more than seek asylum in our nation, as they are fully entitled to do.
 
Catholic Social Services Victoria, on behalf of member agencies* supporting asylum seekers and refugees, has written to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison MP and the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese MP seeking their agreement to end the rancour and reach a just and compassionate agreement for the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
 
We have asked the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and their senior ministers to reach a humane resolution for refugees on the following issues:
 
•    urgent resettlement of the remaining refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to suitable destinations including Australia
•    Grant permanent resident status to people who have qualified for Australia’s protection (TPV and SHEV holders)
•    Grant amnesty and permanent resident status to people who have not been able to qualify for protection but who cannot be returned to their country of origin who have lived in Australia for an agreed time
•    Quick resolution of the claims of many thousands of people caught for years in the “legacy caseload” and IAA review systems
•    Provision of basic financial and medical support for asylum seekers living in Australia whose claims are still to be assessed.
 
Add your voice to ours, and ask your local Members of Parliament to encourage their leaders at this time of relative political calm to extend peace and compassion towards refugees, and to allow the Australian people to give refugees, at last, a fair go.

Enquiries: Denis Fitzgerald, denis.fitzgerald@css.org.au Mob. 0418 136 372
 
* Organisations that contributed to the letters include:




 
Catholic Social Services Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Elders in each of the Communities where we work. Click for our Reconciliation Vision
Cardinal Knox Centre. 383 Albert Street (PO Box 146), East Melbourne Vic 3002
Tel: (03) 9287 5566 Fax: (03) 9287 5567 Email: office@css.org.au
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