Strong, Fair Leadership on Asylum Seeker Issue is Overdue

29 October 2009

Australia’s peak welfare body has issued a call for strong, compassionate leadership on the issues of asylum seekers so that people escaping persecution or violence are treated fairly.

Responding to heated public debate in recent days, the Australian Council of Social Service has called for our nation’s leaders on all sides to adopt a reasoned, non-partisan approach to asylum seekers.

“This is a compassionate country with a strong tradition of giving others a fair go. Our nation has been built on migration and multiculturalism,” said Clare Martin, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service.

“Australia should maintain its commitment to protect vulnerable people. Under international law, people have a right to seek asylum in this country.

“We are calling on our political leaders to act on this complex issue with compassion and fairness. It is a time for a balanced approach which is characterised by respect and reason.

“This is a chance to build on the humane steps already taken by the Federal Government to end mandatory detention and abolish temporary protection visas.

“Around the world large numbers of people are fleeing human rights abuses and conflict zones which presents complex and difficult issues for the Australian Government and governments around the world.

“Cooperation between governments and political parties – at an international, regional and local level is vital to a humane response.”

Media Contact: Clare Cameron, ACOSS – 0419 626 155