Giving Hope to Asylum Seekers
Our Church’s firm commitment to social justice is long-standing, ingrained and widespread.
As a key part of this, Insights is highlighting the work of the Social Justice Forum within the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and the ACT. In the second of five articles, we focus upon one of the Forum’s recent campaigns to lobby the Australian Government to end child detention.
“Give Hope” calls for an end to holding children in immigration detention. Since August 2013, the Forum has undertaken several initiatives to support the “Give Hope” campaign.
In 2013, more than 280 Congregations hand-painted a square of quilt, calling for an end to child detention. “That was a beautiful expression of the depth of concern in the Church, around the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia,” reflects Gabe.
On 23 December, armed with more than 2,000 Christmas cards, the Moderator paid a visit to the office of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Christmas card campaign was the Forum’s way of making Mr Abbott aware that the Church is praying for all children to be released from immigration detention. Inside each card was a personalised message.
Here are two examples:
“At this time of giving, please use your influence and power to give the gift of freedom to the children suffering in detention.” (Written by a member from Tamworth Southside Uniting Church)
“As a follower of the teachings and life of Jesus it grieves me that there is so much suffering in this world and our government’s policies are adding to this suffering. Please find a solution to this tragedy.” (Written by a member from Manning Uniting Church, Taree)
“We know there is an incredible breadth of compassion for refugees and asylum seekers across the Church,” states Gabe.
“What we’re trying to do is provide opportunities for all of those people to come together and speak with one voice to the government, [letting it] know how deeply the Church cares about these issues.”
This issue is close to the heart of Moderator Rev. Myung Hwa Park: “Delivering these cards to the Prime Minister is our way of expressing our concerns for children in detention centres, which is something I feel very strongly about.”
“This message reflects the Christmas message of how Jesus Christ came in the form of a human baby, to care for people,” says Rev. Park.