“Our responses to refugees must be grounded in our shared values of responsibility sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights and in international refugee law…” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
National Refugee Week begins on the 18th June and as you read this, more than sixty million people worldwide – almost three times Australia’s total population – have been displaced from their homes.
The Uniting Church is deeply concerned by the way people seeking asylum are being treated in Australia. These people show extraordinary courage to survive unimaginable terrors, find safety and build new lives with their families. They have much to offer our community – if we give them a safe place to live and a chance to “call Australia home”.
This is a classic case of “Do unto others” – we must ask ourselves how we and our families would expect to be treated if we were the ones who sought refuge. So must we then treat those from overseas who seek our help.
The Give Hope: Uniting for Asylum Seekers Campaign, coordinated by Uniting Social Justice Forum, supports the widespread call for a fairer, more compassionate approach. We work with our Uniting Church in Australia Assembly and other Synods, and many allies who share our view that people seeking asylum:
- should not have to endure mandatory indefinite detention;
- should not be detained offshore;
- are entitled to a fair and expeditious process to assess their claims; and
- once confirmed as refugees, are entitled to permanent protection including access to family reunion.
We also support the Uniting Church Assembly call to increase Australia’s humanitarian intake of refugees to at least 60,000 a year by 2020. As one of the world’s wealthier nations, We Can Do Better!
Many people seeking asylum now living in our community as they await processing are in great need. We believe it is our responsibility as part of the Uniting Church and the wider human family, to help provide practical support – which again we do alongside many partner organisations and individuals.
More on Refugee Week 2017.
Stafford Sanders is the Campaigns Coordinator at Uniting Social Justice Forum.