Asylum seekers and refugees

ACOSS writes to MP’s calling for onshore processing

ACOSS has written to all parliamentarians to draw their attention to the community sector statement about asylum seekers and refugees. The statement was published in The Australian Newspaper (Thursday 8 September 2011), signed by over 260 organisations including leading charities such as Mission Australia, Salvation Army, UnitingCare, Anglicare, and Brotherhood of St. Laurence, as well as a diverse range of grass roots community groups from the cities, and regional and rural Australia.

In the letter emailed to members, ACOSS states 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 urges the Australian Government to do the right thing in the coming days on this important issue.

Read the letter >>

Also see joint ACOSS / Australian Services Union Media Release >>
This media release was issued on Monday 12 September 2011 stating that: ‘Processing asylum seekers onshore using community-based placements would slash costs to taxpayers and provide good jobs for Australians.’

Continue to sign and pass on statement!

Together we are a powerful voice sending a strong message to our political leaders that enough is enough. We need a change in the divisive nature of the debate and policies surrounding the asylum seeker and refugee issue.

We encourage you to continue to sign-on and pass the statement on through your networks, friends and assiociates.

Here’s the final statement:

Australia needs a new approach to asylum seekers and refugees

A statement by over 200 charities, community and grass roots organisations from cities, regional and remote areas around the county.

Following last week’s historic High Court ruling that declared the Malaysia refugee swap deal invalid, Australia’s community sector is calling on the Australian Government to abandon the current fixation with offshore ‘solutions’ and to establish a just and humane approach to Australia’s response to people seeking asylum.

Leaders of Australia’s major charities and social service groups have been joined by other concerned grass roots organisations to sign a statement urging both major political parties to de-politicise policies about the treatment of asylum seekers by immediately abandoning the policy of offshore processing and focusing on policies that uphold Australia’s human rights obligations domestically and internationally.

Instead of considering changes to the agreement with Malaysia or to the Migration Act, or looking at other offshore solutions, the groups urge Australia to abandon off-shore processing altogether. Australia should use the High Court ruling as a definitive turning point for the way we have approached the treatment of people seeking asylum over the past decade. The High Court ruling should be a watershed to reform Australia’s stance on asylum seekers in line with our international obligations.

As a group, the signatories to this Statement call for:

Both major political parties to respect the full implications of the High Court ruling, including that neither indefinite detention nor sending asylum seekers to uncertainty in other countries can be presented as a just or credible response to the needs of people seeking refuge and protection in Australia.

• The Australian Government to take leadership and use the ruling as an opportunity to reframe the national debate about refugees and asylum seekers, explaining that the majority of people who have entered Australia by boat seeking have been found to need protection from persecution, and therefore that the vulnerability of asylum seekers must be a primary consideration in any government response to people movement.

The Australian Government to immediately rule out offshore processing and mandatory detention, and allow people seeking asylum to be placed in the community whilst waiting for a decision, other than in exceptional circumstances.

The Australian Government to immediately move to process all asylum seekers onshore. Instead of spending substantial funds deporting people overseas and building facilities offshore, the Australian Government should enable Australia’s community sector to support and resettle people humanely and effectively, as an appropriate, sensitive and least expensive solution to Australia’s humanitarian responsibilities.

The Australian Government to increase our refugee and humanitarian intake in the region and honour its commitment to resettle the 4000 refugees from Malaysia. Increasing Australia’s intake of refugees from the region is one of the most effective, economic and humane ways to respond to people smuggling.

The Australian Government to continue to work towards a regional solution to the plight of people seeking asylum. Australia should build on the progress achieved through the Bali Process this year to work with governments in Asia-Pacific and beyond to work towards fundamental change to the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in the region.

The groups urge all political parties and Members of Parliament to stop using policies regarding asylum seekers to foster misunderstanding, social division and distrust, and instead use it as an opportunity to get on with the job of fulfilling Australia’s commitment under the Refugee Convention to treat people humanely, process applications for asylum onshore, and promote the better treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in our region.

As a country, we must adopt just and humane policies about the treatment of people seeking asylum and in so doing raise the level of debate and treatment of some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Only then will Australia be able to hold its head high in the international community as a nation with a commitment to human rights and a deep appreciation of the plight of people seeking a safe haven from persecution and a better way of life.

Supported by:

ACOSS – Australian Council of Social Service
ACT Council of Social Service
Act for Peace NCCA
ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre
ActionAid Australia
Activate Church
Advocacy for Inclusion
Amnesty International
Anglicare Australia
Anglicare Victoria
Armidale Rural Australians for Refugees
Arts in Action
Association Amis des Enfants Australia Inc.
Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Asylum Seekers Centre of New South Wales
Asylum Seekers Christmas Island
Athelstone Uniting Church
Australian Association of Social Workers
Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
Australian Community Workers Association
Australian Democrats
Australian Education Union
Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Employees
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations
Australian Friends of Flores/International Society of Human Rights Australia
Australian Greens
Australian Kurdish Association
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
Australian Muslim Women’s Association
Australian Services Union
Australian Women’s Health Network
Australian Youth Affairs Coalition
Berry Street
Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters
Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group
Women of the Blue Mountains
Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project
Brigidine Sisters
Brisbane Youth Service
Brotherhood of St Laurence
Cabramatta Community Centre
Cairns Diocese Social Justice contact
Caritas, Catholic Mission, ACSJC
Carmelite Order Australia
Catalyst Australia
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane
Catholic Religious Australia
Catholic Social Justice Commission of Canberra & Goulburn
Catholic Social Services Australia
Centacare Bathurst
Centacare Cairns
Centacare Catholic Family Services Catholic Diocese of Port Pirie
Centacare Mount Isa
Centacare Townsville
Central West Women’s Health Centre Inc.
Centre for Community Child Health
Centre for Health Service Development
Chain Reaction Foundation
Churches of Christ CareWorks SA & NT
Climate and Health Alliance
Coalition for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees
Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services of SA Inc
Community Legal Centres NSW
Community Living Project Inc.
Community Restorative Centre
Consumer Credit Legal Centre NSW Inc.
CPSU, the Community and Public Sector Union, SPSF Group
Creative Contingencies
Crossroads Community Care Centre Inc.
DASSAN (Darwin Asylum Seeker Support & Advocacy Network)
Didactic Enterprises
Disability Resources Centre
Djapana Cares
Domestic Violence Resource Service
Douniya – West African Drum and Dance Sydney
DV Connect
Eastern Community Legal Centre
Edmund Rice Centre
Equatoria Community and Welfare Assciation NSW Inc.
Family Life
Family Relationship Services Australia
Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia
Federation of Italian Migrant Workers and Families
Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre Inc.
Footscray Community Legal Centre
Frankston Multicultural Community Network
Fremantle Multicultural Centre
Gippsland Multicultural Service
Global Peace Initiative of Women
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealan
Granville Multicultural Community Centre
Green Left Weekly
Griffith University
HART 4000 Homelessness Assessment and Referral Team
Hepatitis Australia
Hepatitis C Council of SA
High Resolves
Hills Community Options Inc.
Hinterland Community Development Association
Homelessness Australia
Human Rights Law Centre
Illawarra Legal Centre
Immigrant Women’s Support Service
Independent Education Union
International Society of Human Rights – Australia Inc.
Islamic Council of Victoria
Ivanhoe Local Group Amnesty International
Jensen Planning & Design
Jobs Australia Limited
Justice and Peace Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
KGA Consulting GroupMASH
L’Arche Australia
MacKillop Family Services
Marist Asylum-Seeker Refugee Service
Medical Association for Prevention of War
Mekong Migration Network
Melbourne Catholic Migrant & Refugee Office
Mental Health ACT
Mental Health Association NSW
MercyCare WA
Micah Projects
Migrant Women’s Support Service Inc.
Milang Old School House Community Centre
Mission Australia
Mountains Community Resource Centre
Multicultural Communities Council of SA
Multicultural Services Centre of WA
Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW
National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc.
National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS
National Council of Churches in Australia
National Ethnic Disability Alliance
National LGBTI Health Alliance
National Shelter
National Tertiary Education Union
National Welfare Rights Network
Neighbourhood That Works
Network of Immigrant and Refugee Women of Australia
New Internationalist Australia
Newcastle Family Support Services
Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre
NSW Association for Youth Health
NSW Council of Social Service
NSW Family Services Inc.
NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby
NSW Rape Crisis Centre
NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors
NSW Spanish and Latin American Association
NT Council of Social Service
Older Women’s Network NSW Inc.
PeakCare Queensland
Peel Community Legal Service
People Living With HIV/AIDS Victoria
People with Disability Australia
People’s Choice Credit Union
Physical Disability Australia Ltd.
Presentation Sisters Queensland
Project SafeCom
Public Health Association of Australia
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Public Interest Law Clearing House
Qld Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research
Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees
Refugee Action Coalition, NSW
Refugee Action Network Newcastle
Refugee Advice and Casework Service
Refugee Advice and Rights Service
Refugee and Immigration Legal Service Inc.
Refugee Council of Australia
Refugee Relief Association
Refugee Rights Action Network
Richmond Community Services Inc.
Romero Centre
Rosemount Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services
Ruah Community Services
Rural Australians for Refugees
SA Council of Social Service
Salvation Army (Bendigo)
Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory
Settlement Council of Australia
Shelter SA
SHine SA
Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre Inc.
Sister of Mercy Australia
Sisters of Charity of Australia
Sisters of Mercy Bathurst
Sisters of St Joseph
Skill Teaching And Resources Inc.
Social Justice Commission Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba
Social Justice Network
Social Policy Connections
Socialist Alliance
Sophia Ecumenical Feminist Spirituality Inc.
South West Brisbane Community Legal Centre Inc.
Southern Junction Community Services
Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre
Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau
St Bede’s Braidwood Social Justice Group
St George Youth Services Inc.
St Marys Area Community Development Project Inc.
St Vincent de Paul Society
St. Anthony’s Asylum Seeker Support Group
Star of the Sea College
Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service (SA)
Sydney Multicultural Community Services
Tasmanian Council of Social Service
Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia
The Hepatitis C Council of SA Inc.
The House of Welcome
Toowoomba Refugee and Migrant Support
Top End Women’s Legal Service
Townsville Catholic Diocesan Social Justice Committee
Uniting Church in Australia National Assembly
Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
UnitingCare Australia
UnitingCare Centre for Social Justice
UnitingCare Community
UnitingCare Cutting Edge
UnitingCare Gippsland
UnitingCare South Australia
UnitingCare Victoria and Tasmania
UnitingCare Wesley Adelaide
UnitingCare Wesley Bowden Inc.
UnitingCare West
UnitingJustice Australia
Unity Housing Company Ltd.
Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre
Victorian Council for Civil Liberties
Victorian Council of Social Service
Victorian Trades Hall Council
WA Council of Social Service
Welfare Rights Centre (SA)
Welfare Rights Centre, Sydney
Wesley Mission Brighter Futures Nepean
West Footscray Neighbourhood House
Western Sydney Aboriginal Reconciliation Committee
Western Sydney Community Forum
Williamstown Uniting Church Social Justice Group
WISE Employment
Women With Disabilities Australia
Women’s Activities and Self Help House Inc.
Workers Health Centre
Yarra Institute for Religion and Social Policy
Youth Action and Policy Association NSW
Youth Affairs Network of Qld
Youth and Cultural Development, NZ
Youth Coalition of the ACT
Youth Network of Tasmania
YWCA of Canberra
Zena Women’s Services Inc.
2020 Women
94.7 The Pulse

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