17 June 2008


The week beginning June 15th has been designated by the Refugee Council of Australia as Refugee Week, in the lead up to World Refugee Day on June 20th.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is globally promoting the theme of 'refugee protection', whether that’s shelter or fair treatment or the right to seek asylum - particularly as the world this year prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Australia’s Refugee Week theme of 'A Place to Call Home' encourages people to think about the global themes of protection and human rights by focusing on the fundamental right to a secure place to call home. It encourages Australians to think about our common obligations to people who have no secure home, as well as to acknowledge the 700,000 refugees and humanitarian migrants over the past 60 years who have made Australia their home.

Whilst the new Australian Government has done much to ensure fairer treatment of asylum seekers and refugees – the abolition of the ‘Pacific solution’; closure of detention centres on Nauru and Manus island; the abolition of the Temporary Protection Visa system and an increase in the humanitarian intake component of the immigration program – concerns remain.

Just Act a Uniting Church publication, highlights the plight of refugees on bridging visas who are still denied work rights, access to Medicare and social security income; the opening of the detention centre on Christmas Island; the retention of the law billing asylum seekers for their time in detention and the continuation of the mandatory detention policy, as issues of concern.

Suggested actions and sample letters in relation to these concerns can be found at the above website.

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