Monthly Archives: July 2013

Asylum Seekers are human beings not political pawns

Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) calls upon Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to remember that asylum seekers are human beings, not the means to win votes or the way to punish and deter people smugglers. CRA President, Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc, expressed shock and disappointment at the new hard-line asylum seeker policy, saying, “What is needed is a long term solution that protects the human rights of all people seeking asylum and treats them with dignity and respect.”

“These people must be desperate to attempt long and hazardous boat journeys,” she said. Sr Annette called to mind the words of Pope Francis during his recent visit to Lampedusa, the tiny island off Sicily that has become one of the main points of entry into Europe for poor and desperate migrants willing to risk the crossing in overcrowded and unsafe fishing vessels and small boats. Thousands are known to have died over the years and unknown numbers of others are presumed lost without trace.”The ‘other’ is no longer a brother or sister to be loved, but simply someone who disturbs my life and my comfort”, said Pope Francis. “In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business”. “It is a tragedy that people fleeing persecution and looking for safety are dying at sea,” said Sr Annette, “but the solution is not to close Australia to people in need”. Perhaps we need to join in the prayer of Pope Francis, said Sr Annette.

We beg forgiveness for our indifference to so many of our brothers and sisters. Father, we ask your pardon for those who are complacent and closed amid comforts which have deadened their hearts; we beg your forgiveness for those who by their decisions on the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies. Forgive us, Lord!

(Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) is the peak body for leaders of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life resident in Australia. Our membership comprises more than 180 congregations of over 8,000 Sisters, Brothers and Religious Priests living and working in all states and territories.)


For enquiries or more information please contact:

Suzette Clark rsc

CRA Justice Network Coordinator

043 9710 218

By | 2013-07-22T14:54:56+10:00 July 22nd, 2013|Latest News, Press Releases, Uncategorized|

Protection Not Punishment

Press Release -Friday 19th July, 2013

Rev. Elenie Poulos, Chairperson of the recently formed Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, has expressed grave concern at the new arrangements for asylum seekers announced today.“It is a tragedy that people fleeing persecution and looking for safety are dying at sea. The only way to stop this happening is to make it safe for people to stay in Indonesia, Malaysia or other countries in the region.“Today we heard nothing about better protecting people. Australia is closing the door to people in need. Shifting the burden to one of the poorest countries in our region is not improving protection. We are one of the richest countries on earth and we are turning our back on people in need.“This is not a matter of ‘left’ versus ‘right’ politics. This is about how we best respond out of a humanitarian perspective. Shifting the burden and sending people to stay in a malaria-ridden island with almost no supports is not an acceptable alternative to protection”, said Rev. Poulos. In 2012 less than 1% of world’s refugees were accepted by Australia. Much poorer countries are taking hundreds of thousands more every year. While Australia received 29,610 asylum applications in 2012, Turkey received 325,301, Jordan 135,946, Lebanon 134,896, South Sudan 101,480. Father Peter Catt, the Anglican Dean of Brisbane, who also chairs the Brisbane Anglican Diocese’s Social Responsibility Committee, expressed his dismay at the closed door policy.

“The punishment of vulnerable people continues. It is not a moral response to punish one group of people in order to send a message to another. A truly regional solution would see better protection for asylum seekers and refugees in throughout the region. And for those who arrive on shores, the moral response would be to process their claims for protection, as per our obligations under the Refugee Convention. “Asylum seekers are people loved by God. We have a moral responsibility to care for them. Asylum seekers who arrive by boat continue to be used to score political points. Real and durable solutions will not be found via closed doors and burden-shifting,” said Father Catt.

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce is an initiative supported by the National Council of Churches in Australia, and is steered by representatives from seven Christian churches and three ecumenical bodies. The Taskforce is supported by a network of 216 Christian entities in Australia.

Media Contacts: Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739,; Dean Troth, Media Advisor, 0432 267 184

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:52+10:00 July 21st, 2013|Latest News, Media, Press Releases|

Misha Coleman

Misha-ColemanMisha has extensive experience living and working in the regions from which people flee as asylum seekers and refugees including Palestine, Ethiopia, Kenya, Vietnam and Cambodia. She was formerly the CEO of Anglican Overseas Aid, and has also worked for the Australian Government’s aid agency AusAID, at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi, and has led Asian Development Bank and US Government aid programs in the Asia-pacific region. She has a Masters degree in Environmental Law and post-graduate qualifications in development studies, monitoring and evaluation.

Formerly, as a Registered Nurse and Midwife, Misha worked in black townships in South Africa during apartheid and in several Australian indigenous communities throughout the 1990’s. In 2000 she was awarded the Australian Service Medal by the Australian Government for active duty in the Multinational Peacekeeping Mission to Bougainville. In 2007 she was awarded two medals by the Government of Vietnam for services to development. Misha was elected as a Board Member of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid in 2011, the peak body for Australian NGOs which operate in the international aid and development sector, and is also currently an elected Councillor in the City of Yarra.

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:52+10:00 July 18th, 2013|Members|

Australia Falls for a Fistful of Fibs

If there’s one thing that Bob Carr’s recent comments on asylum seekers demonstrated it was that our politicians think they can say anything they want about ‘boat people’ and not be held to account for the truth.

Rev. Elenie Poulos is the national director of Uniting Justice Australia (Uniting Church in Australia) and chair of the newly formed Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

Read Elenie’s full article, recently published in Eureka Street.

By | 2013-07-18T10:15:07+10:00 July 18th, 2013|Latest News|

The New Homeless Need the Same Compassion

Media Release from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

In his first term as Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd showed great compassion towards homeless people.

We recall his visits to shelters for homeless people, his Taskforce and additional funding to provide durable solutions.

The same compassionate response is now needed for those asylum seekers in the community, pushed into poverty by “no advantage” policies.

These people are not having their claims for refugee status assessed. They cannot work. They do not have enough resources to live on. They are being driven into homelessness and despair. They are being negatively stereotyped in the political discourse, day by day.

We urge the Prime Minister to recall the face of the homeless. We urge him to meet the asylum seekers – visit them in the agencies trying to support them.

We urge the new Prime Minister to ensure their claims for refugee status are assessed in a timely fashion.

We urge the prime Minister to make a dignified, compassionate response to this situation – a response worthy of a civilised nation.

Bishop Philip Huggins on 9653 4243 or 0418 799 515
Communications Director Roland Ashby on 9653 4215 or 0418 342 561

Media Release


By | 2018-01-04T16:14:53+10:00 July 18th, 2013|Latest News|

Pre-election Resources from the Uniting Church in Australia

A-Just-SocietyThis resource, developed by the Uniting Church in Australia, includes materials on asylum seeker and refugee issues. It is an invitation to consider your vote in the 2013 Federal Election in terms of what we need to do, as individuals and as a nation, to ensure a just society – one that is focussed on the good of all people and the planet, now and into the future. We hope that you will find it a helpful resource as you consider the values which underpin the policies of the political parties and candidates who are asking us to give them the responsibility of national leadership. See the full document.

Of particular interest to the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce are the following extracts from the full document:

Protecting the Persecuted: Justice for asylum seekers and refugees

In the Hebrew Scriptures God is often identified as the God who cares for the exiled and the stranger. God brings justice to the oppressed and calls on the people of faith to care for the strangers and aliens in their midst as they care for each other. Refugees are identified in the Bible with widows and orphans as the most marginalised people, the most at risk, and the test of faithful obedience to God was how a community or individuals cared for these most vulnerable people. Hospitality to the stranger therefore became one of the strongest moral forces in ancient Israel. To read on, download this document.

Children in Immigration Detention

Australia is the only developed country that has a policy of mandatory detention of all “unauthorised arrivals”, including children. There are moral and humane alternatives. These children have not been detained “as a measure of last resort.” There is no legitimate justification for this policy. To read on, download this document.

Asylum seekers and offshore processing

Why is this an election issue? The politicisation of asylum seekers has continued unabated over the last 3 years – extremely vulnerable people fleeing persecution, including children, are being used to score political points about ‘stopping the boats’. To read on, download this document.



By | 2018-01-04T16:14:53+10:00 July 11th, 2013|Resources, Resources for Churches and Schools|

Losing Perspective in the Search for Simple Solutions: Jesuit Refugee Service, Australia

Jesuit Refugee Service Press Release: For Immediate Release

JRS Indonesia and Australia claim there are no quick solutions to complex movements of people throughout the region and warn against returning asylum seekers to Indonesia.

JRS Indonesia and JRS Australia welcome the recent visit to Indonesia by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for this year’s annual Australia-­‐Indonesia leadership meeting on 5 July. JRS also commends President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s proposal for Indonesia to host a regional summit on irregular movement of people in the region. Download the Full Press Release.

By | 2013-07-11T06:57:29+10:00 July 11th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Archbishop says human rights a priority for refugee treatment

Citizenship, while important, should not trump human rights in Australia’s treatment of refugees

From the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne website
Story by Mark Brolly

BoatCitizenship, while important, should not trump human rights in Australia’s treatment of refugees, Archbishop Philip Freier has declared.

Dr Freier said there was “a certain exceptionalism” about Australian attitudes that because Australia had no land borders, it should not be exposed to the realities of people movements and turmoil that existed in other parts of the world.

He said there was “really a different ethical base” underneath recent remarks by the Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, that most of the people arriving on boats in recent times were not refugees but economic migrants, and that a real problem lay with the definitions applied by Australian tribunals when assessing arrivals.

“I can understand that the spike in numbers is very difficult for the Government to manage and I think the policies the Government puts in place quickly become exhausted and can’t cope with any extra capacity,” Dr Freier said during a panel discussion on asylum seekers on ABC Radio’s Sunday Nights program, hosted by John Cleary, on 30 June.

The Archbishop referred to a recent Breakfast Conversation he hosted on the issue in Federation Square, saying that the people there “would have had a view very different to the one that Bob Carr has espoused”.

“People were saying in that group that there is a strong moral imperative, and a strong desire that they have, to re-frame the national discourse and to have a very different way of speaking about people who are asylum seekers, a different way of speaking about people who come to Australia on boats and an entirely different way of welcoming them…,” Dr Freier said.

“There’s a kind of an Australian exceptionalism that not having a land border, we don’t expect that we’re going to be exposed to the kind of realities of the people movements… that places like Lebanon was experiencing, Syria was experiencing with a lot of Iraqi Christian refugees until they’ve been plunged back into chaos in their civil war and many other places and nations near the Mediterranean simply because of their proximity to North Africa are getting lots of people arriving on boats with far greater frequency than we are. So we’ve got a certain exceptionalism in Australia that we should be different and not exposed to the turmoil that exists in the world. The world is in turmoil.

“… It’s a very disturbing situation when we decide to deprive people of liberty, to treat them with less compassion than we treat other people. And while citizenship is an important notion, it’s not a notion that trumps human rights.”

Archbishop Freier, asked whether the Refugees Convention was outdated, said it had emerged from the awful situations leading up to and during World War II when Jewish refugees trying the escape the Holocaust were stateless and not being accepted in any ports, “and I think the international community saw the primary inhumanity in that situation and so the Refugees Convention was really brought into being to face a situation which is still an enduring reality”.

“It would be an appalling situation for people simply to be stateless and to have to make the best they could endure in life in some place, having no place where they had any hope or any place to settle,” he said. “So I think any argument… that the Refugees Convention is out-of-date or inappropriate, is quite wrong. It actually touches on a profound moral discovery around the circumstances of the Holocaust and the period, events before, during and after the Second World War that has been properly attended to by the international community. (The Convention) is one we should hold strongly to and not seek to minimise or attenuate its effect.”

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:54+10:00 July 11th, 2013|Opinion|

Throughout July

Robin de Crespigny’s Speaking Tour of regional Victoria

PeopleSmugglerRobin de Crespigny is a Sydney film-maker, producer, director, writer and a former Directing Lecturer at the Australian Film, Television & Radio School.

Her recent book, The People Smuggler explores an Iraqi man’s epic story of trying to find a safe place in the world.

Robin’s itinerary:

Wangarrata Library 6.30 Wed 10 July

Myrtleford Library 1pm Thurs 11 July

Mansfield Library 10.30am Fri 12 July

Ethnic Council of Shepparton 6pm Fri 12 July

Bright Library 10.30am Saturday 13 July

Traralgon Uniting Church 3pm Sun 14 July

Wonthaggi Secondary College Mon 15 July

Morewell CFMEU 51343311 3pm Mon 15 July

Inverlock Library 2pm Tue 16 July

Korumburra Library 10.30am Wed 17 July

Sale Collins Bookshop 6pm Wed 17 July

Lakes Entrance Library Thurs 18 July

Bairnsdale Library 6pm Thurs 18 July

Orbost Library 12 noon Fri 19 July

Eden Uniting Church 6pm Fri 19 July

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:54+10:00 July 10th, 2013|Uncategorized|

September 5 – 15

Unseen Habitation

Unseen Habitation is a site specific exhibition, a walk through maze of installations created by 5 Australian Artists of colour from diverse migration experiences: Somalia, Eritrea /Egypt, Vietnam and Bosnia. Each artist will explore how communities reconstruct place and home—post migration making use of various art forms, including; sculpture, installation, mixed media, and photography We ask, what happens when traditions clash with our lived urban spaces?

Opening night 5 September

Goodtime Studio 746 Swanston St, Carlton. Directly opposite Melbourne University.

Unseen habitation, Project Curator, Dominic Golding says “The exhibition challenges the ideas and myths about migration, namely that of hope and building new lives.”

• Nadia Faragaab installation examines the rituals the Somali community bring with them and adapt around death and home in Melbourne.
• Iris Radovic’s sound/installation piece is a soundscape depicting the internal impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from trauma of war.
• Thuy Vy presents a set of photographs, which documents the contemporary culture of recycling and flea markets.
• Mohammad Nur’s sculpture relooks at how public housing is constructed and reconstructed.
• Maria Pena working with textiles builds an organic representation of the ‘body as being a home’.
• Dominic Golding’s IKEA ‘Curiosity Cabinet’ mixes the actual and the profane of Multi-Cult-ist Tourism.
• Hoang Tran Nguyen objects and group photo which h make up his memories of high school.

Runs from the 6th to the 15th of September 2013

Media contacts :- Dominic Golding 0403 851 240

By | 2013-07-10T07:21:55+10:00 July 10th, 2013|Uncategorized|