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Positive pathway to asylum seeker policy

31 October 2011

A community delegation will converge on Canberra today to support the Federal Government's positive pathway towards community-based alternatives to immigration detention.

Chaired by the Refugee Council of Australia and involving 17 organisations representing millions of Australians the delegation will brief parliamentarians on best-practice community-based models to process asylum seekers.

RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said the delegation strongly supported the Government's decision to pursue onshore processing of all asylum applications and alternatives to detention to people arriving by boat without a visa.

Mr Power said the delegation was reaching out to the Government to help develop successful long-term community models.

"Our message to the Government is clear - we are ready to work with Government to build community support for successful community processing models."

The delegation is also calling for a greater focus on regional development, which Mr Power said "will do more than any other set of measures to address the insecurity that forces refugees and asylum seekers to engage people-smugglers in their efforts to find greater safety."

In addition to those participating in this delegation, "hundreds of organisations support a more compassionate approach", according to ACOSS Chief Executive, Cassandra Goldie. In September ACOSS gathered support for community based arrangements from over 260 leading organisations and leading charities.

"It is misguided to be looking at off-shore solutions when the most effective, economical and humane method for processing asylum seekers is right here on our doorstep" she said.

Organisations who are part of this delegation includes: Amnesty International Australia, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Australian Council of Social Service, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Catalyst Australia Inc, ChilOut, Edmund Rice Centre, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Federation of Ethnic Communities' Council of Australia, John Menadue, National Council of Churches in Australia, Oxfam Australia, Refugee Advice and Casework Service, Refugee Council of Australia, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, Welcome to Australia.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew Williams 0488 035 535

community delegation to Canberra on asylum seekers, October 31, 2011

In early September 2011 ACOSS coordinated a community sector statement urging a commitment to onshore processing and community-based arrangements for people seeking asylum. The response was overwhelming; 264 community organisations (listed over page) and 359 individuals lent their support.

The statement was published in The Australian on 8 September 2011.

ACOSS also wrote to all parliamentarians to draw their attention to the community sector statement about asylum seekers and refugees. In the letter emailed to members, ACOSS stated that onshore processing and community-based arrangements for people seeking asylum are not only far better, but also cheaper and keep expenditure in Australia, and urged the Australian Government to do the right thing in the coming days on this important issue. Read the letter >>. And find out more about the campaign here >>.