17 December 2012


Catholic social justice groups have called on the Australian government to place human life, human rights and compassion ahead of political expediency, in response to recently enacted measures to discriminate further against people fleeing to Australia for refuge.

Chief Executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council Dr John Falzon condemned the government’s announcement that it would be leaving refugees on bridging visas with no right to work and very little support:“It is time for Australia to accept its international obligations and to respect the human rights and human dignity of the people who seek asylum in our country" he said.

Leaders of Religious Congregations have also raised their voices on this issue including the leader of the Josephites, Sr Anne Derwin, who asked: "When will the women and men of compassion and reason in our political parties be heard so that Australia's response to those seeking asylum will at last be humane?"

In a letter to the Australian Prime Minister, Sr Louise Cleary, Congregational Leader of the Brigidine Sisters wrote "We are appalled at the current level of cruelty that our Australian authorities are showing to asylum seekers, particularly those who arrive by boat. Indefinite detention and deliberate delays in processing claims for refugee status, are flagrant breaches of the UN Convention for Refugees to which Australia is a signatory, and can only damage Australia’s international standing as a humane and decent country."

The letter goes on to condemn the "extraordinarily punitive" decision to apply the “no advantage” test to boat arrivals’ claims being processed on the Australian mainland, and to "deplore the involuntary return of asylum seekers to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka".

The Christian Brothers Oceania Leadership Team has circulated the letter to all its members and asked them to consider acting in support of this group of disadvantaged people with little voice, by writing to their local Members of parliament, House and Senate, protesting at this state of affairs.

Politicians' Electoral Office addresses can be found here.

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