Advocate for people seeking asylum by meeting with MPs

Advocate for people seeking asylum by meeting with MPs

In March, the Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW/ACT, Rev Simon Hansford, spoke to the crowds on Palm Sunday and declared that we are the voice for the voiceless.

“We’ve said no to injustice. People seeking asylum aren’t voiceless – we will speak for them, we will sing for them, we will shout for them,” said Rev. Hansford.

Now ahead of the next election, the Uniting Church Social Justice Forum (SJF) are calling on church members to raise their voices and tell their local MPs that we can do better for people seeking asylum.

Current policy affecting these people in the community and offshore is the toughest it’s ever been. The harm caused by existing processes which prolong peoples suffering and keep them in a state of limbo and insecurity, is widespread and widely reported.

Your view matters

With the next Federal election, critical policy decisions are being made and it is essential for local Federal MPs to see and hear their constituents that are advocating for more humane policies for people seeking asylum.

SJF team member, Jon O’Brien, says that “the feedback we have been receiving from MPs is that more regular people from the community need to be knocking on their door to talk to them about this.

“Elected representatives need to see that this is an issue their voters genuinely care about if we are to see positive change,” said Jon.

Contacting an MP to discuss specific issues of concern is one of the most powerful and effective actions that members of the public can take. This strategy is being adopted by many other organisations in the refugee sector. This strategy is also about holding elected representatives responsible and ensuring that they act and vote with full knowledge of the concerns of those in their electorate. The SJF has prepared a guide on some of the key policy areas for discussion and specific ‘asks’ to put to an MP in the meeting. These have been identified by people seeking asylum as key issues of concern for them and is the focus of broader refugee sector advocacy.

The SJF will be on hand to provide support and guidance through all steps of the process. This includes; making contact with the MP’s office to request a meeting, preparing for the meeting and debriefing afterwards. The SJF can also present a short 1-hour training session to your group or people in your congregation on how to have an effective meeting with your MP. There are also a number of resources available to people that are interested in being involved.

Next steps

Check out the Give Hope webpage for more information on this #WeCanDoBetter action and see what we are asking you to discuss with your MP.

Next, contact Alex Hogan at the SJF to express your interest in setting up a meeting with your MP or being part of an existing delegation to visit your MP. In the meantime you can email your local MP on this issue – we’ve made it quick and easy for you to do it here.

Alex Hogan: ahogan@uniting.org / 02 9407 3230

Or contact Jon Obrien: joobrien@uniting.org

Alex Hogan is the Advocacy Officer at Uniting Social Justice Forum.

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