Monthly Archives: November 2013

Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants

Building a New Life in Australia is a long-term research project about how humanitarian migrants settle into a new life in Australia.
This longitudinal study will be conducted over 5 years.
It is the first comprehensive study of its kind in more than a decade.
Data collection commenced in 2013 and will run until 2018.
The study has been commissioned by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Visit the Department website.

By | 2013-11-27T16:53:23+10:00 November 27th, 2013|Government|

Statement to the Press by Taskforce about Latifa and baby

Today, Baby Farus is 21 days old, having been born prematurely at 37.5 weeks in Brisbane.

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce have teamed up with Maurice Blackburn legal firm, who are representing this family on a pro bono basis, to argue against the deportation by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection of this newborn baby and his family back to Nauru.

In court yesterday, the Federal Government argued that the case couldn’t be heard in Brisbane, but Judge Cassidy wasn’t necessarily convinced, and the case will come back into the Brisbane Circuit Court this Friday 29th November at 3pm

Executive Officer of the Taskforce, Misha Coleman, spent time with the family in the Brisbane Detention Centre on Monday and was in court yesterday. She made the following points at a press conference yesterday:

  • The Churches Refugee Taskforce is INDEED pushing an agenda. We are talking anout a baby’s health and not jeopardising his chances of survival. There must be be some degree of flexibility of the system that goes beyond tough. The Taskforce is appealing to the decency and humanity of ALL members of parliament to protect these babies, mothers and children.
  • We also need to pray for those guards and staff who work in these camps – how difficult it must be, especially for those guards who are parent themselves, to lock up babies, their mothers, and children?
  • In a policy sense, the birth of a child is being treated as a way of rorting the system – like some sort of illegal migration pathway. That is offensive. This baby’s parents have done what any loving couple would do. Bring a new life into the world. Let’s be clear: it IS perfectly legal to seek asylum in Australia.
  • If we as a nation turn a blind eye to what’s going on in detention centres, we as a nation will be complicit. The appalling treatment of these children may well be the subject of another Royal Commission in years to come, and the shame is something we will all have to bear.
  • The contractors managing these centres no longer have to report the birth of a baby to the department, the Government nor the public. As Christians we can’t ignore the birth of a baby. To not record a baby’s birth is to officially deny their existence. We don’t believe any fair-minded Australians would see that as acceptable.
  • These guidelines take us back to the days of the Woomera detention centre, which is now closed. 50 babies were born in that centre and the government of the day considered those babies “unlawful”
  • At this rate, in 2040, our Parliament will need to say sorry to another group of people that we, as a nation, treated appallingly in the name of border protection.
By | 2018-01-04T16:14:34+10:00 November 27th, 2013|Latest News, Mothers and Babies in Detention, Press Releases|

Mothers and Babies in Detention

A member of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce today visited mothers and their babies who are locked in a detention centre in Brisbane, to distribute baby clothes and toys that were donated by church members. Amongst those she met were Latifa and baby Ferouz, and two Catholic couples who both have 3-month old baby girls and who had fled religious persecution in Vietnam.

Parishioners from all over Australia have contacted the Taskforce expressing huge concern about the welfare of this newborn baby, and asking what they can do to assist this Rohingyan family and baby Ferouz, who was born in Brisbane 21 days ago.

Although the family has now been reunited, mother, father, baby and their other children remain locked in detention at the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation.

A court hearing time has been set for 10am (QLD time) at the Brisbane Circuit Circuit (formerly the Brisbane Magistrates Court) for Tuesday 26th November, at 119 North Quay, Brisbane.

Executive Officer of the Taskforce, Misha Coleman, who is also a qualified midwife, expressed concerns following the meeting with the family this morning. “We are concerned that this baby may be taken away in the middle of the night. This is a baby who was born prematurely, and who is very reliant on formula and bottles for nutrition. Any Australian mother knows how crucial it is to be able to sterilise bottles and teats properly so that you don’t give the baby a gastrointestinal illness. How will Latifa do this in a plastic tent, with a bucket of water, in a camp on Nauru, in a country which already has infant mortality rates which are 4 times higher than Australia?”

The Taskforce Chair, The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, called on Minister Morrison to clarify who will issue the medical clearance that the Minister has said needs to be completed before the baby can be transferred anywhere else. “Can we be assured that any medical assessment will be done by an independent medical professional, as opposed to a government contractor, and what criteria will be used to determine whether a sick baby can be transferred to a plastic tent in a detention camp on Nauru?”

Last Thursday 21st November, Myanmar rejected a UN Resolution which urged them to curb violence against Muslims (the Rohingyan population is Muslim) and to grant citizenship to Rohingyans. If this resolution had been adopted and implemented by Myanmar, baby Farus and his parents would actually have had a home to go to. As it is though, the statelessness of this family is further entrenched.

The following people will be available at a media conference after the hearing outside the Court tomorrow morning. Photos of the baby are available.

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT)
Murray Watt, Associate, Maurice Blackburn.

Media Inquiries: Stephen Feneley, ACRT, 0458 550 008
Misha Coleman, ACRT, 0428 399 739
Jade Thompson, Maurice Blackburn, 0417 969 438

By | 2013-11-26T09:18:31+10:00 November 26th, 2013|Latest News|

Court hearing tomorrow to stop newborn being sent to Nauru

An urgent request to stop the transfer of a newborn baby and his family to Nauru will again be put to a Brisbane court tomorrow, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said today.

Maurice Blackburn Associate Murray Watt said the Federal Government had given an undertaking late on Friday not to remove the family until a further order from the court, with the matter to resume at the Brisbane Federal Circuit Court tomorrow morning.

“This family of asylum seekers from Burma has already been poorly treated, with limited access to visit their newborn son, Ferouz, while he remained in hospital,” Mr Watt said.

“Now they face the risk of removal to Nauru, despite real concerns for their health.

“This is an important case, not just for baby Ferouz and his family, but also in highlighting the injustice of detaining children offshore.

“Nauru is no place for any newborn, and particularly not when there are significant health impacts to consider, as is the case with Ferouz and his family.

“This is a significant test case, for two reasons.

“Firstly, it concerns the rights of an asylum seeker to present independent medical advice about their health, before any decision is made to take them back to Nauru.

“Secondly, there is a real question whether the Government can take Ferouz to Nauru at all, given that he was born in Australia.

“While we welcome the Government’s agreement not to transfer the family until a further order from the court, this family deserves the right to have these matters fully heard before any transfer to Nauru.

“We will continue to advocate strongly for this in court tomorrow – baby Ferouz and his family must be given that right before the Government makes any further decisions.

“Ferouz is still very weak – he is just two weeks old and continues to struggle with breastfeeding while his mother Latifar is recovering from a caesarean.

“They are in no state to be transferred to Nauru, where they will have limited access to the specialist care and support they have been receiving in Brisbane,” he said.

Media Alert

What: A hearing for the case of baby Ferouz and his family at the Brisbane Federal Circuit Court.

When: 10am Queensland time, TOMORROW, Tuesday 26 November 2013.

Where: Federal Circuit Court, Harry Gibbs Commonwealth Law Courts Building, 119 North Quay Brisbane City.

Who: Maurice Blackburn Associate Murray Watt and Misha Coleman of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce will be available for media outside the Brisbane Circuit Court following the court hearing.

Media inquiries: Jade Thompson at Maurice Blackburn on 0417 969 438.

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:35+10:00 November 26th, 2013|Latest News|

Peter Catt’s Letter to the ALP Caucus

The following is a copy of Peter Catt’s letter to the ALP Caucus regarding the reintroduction of TPVs.


18th November 2013


URGENT: Your Support of the Motion to Disallow the Reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs)

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, an initiative of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA), is represented by a Steering Committee of 17 senior clergy from eight denominations and three ecumenical bodies, and currently has over 321 member entities. The full list of Steering Committee members is attached for your reference.

We are writing to ask you to please oppose the re-­‐introduction of temporary protection visas, by voting for the motion to disallow the Migration Amendment (Temporary Protection Visas) Regulation 2013. We believe that TPVs -­‐ which would be the ONLY protection available to people fleeing scenarios of war and atrocities -­‐ are unethical and inhumane. They force people into a situation of permanent limbo, where they cannot plan for their life in Australia and they have no hope of being reunited with their family. The retrospective nature of the visa which will apply to all those already here, many of whom have been waiting for a number of years to have their claim processed, is particularly cruel.

As you would know, TPVs were first introduced by the Howard Government in 1999 and were repealed by the Rudd Government in 2008. The Abbot Government has announced that the purpose of re-­‐ introducing TPVs is to act as a deterrent to future asylum seekers arriving by boat. It would also constitute a punishment for those who are already in Australia but who the Government considers to have arrived “illegally”. The ACRT does not believe that it is appropriate to punish people who have committed no crime.

The claim that TPVs act as a deterrent to other asylum seekers arriving by boat is not supported by evidence. In the two years following the introduction of TPVs in October 1999, the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat to Australian increased 500% compared with the previous two years. This included an increased number of women and children as desperate families sought to reunite.

We urge you to please support the motion to disallow the Migration Amendment (Temporary Protection Visas) Regulation 2013 when it is introduced into Parliament.

Yours in Christ,

The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt Chair
Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce


Download this letter as a PDF with the ACRT members list.

By | 2013-11-18T12:09:30+10:00 November 18th, 2013|Campaigns|

Scott Morrison defends limiting asylum seeker’s time with newborn baby

From the Radio Australia website: Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has defended limiting an asylum seeker’s contact with her sick newborn, saying the baby is in hospital and it is “common practice” for mothers not to stay overnight. (By chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths and Kim Lyell).

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has defended limiting an asylum seeker’s contact with her sick newborn, saying the baby is in hospital and it is “common practice” for mothers not to stay overnight.

The Rohingya woman from Myanmar gave birth by caesarean section last week to a baby boy who has since been kept in special care at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital.

However, Fairfax news reports say the 31-year-old mother, called Latifa, was moved back into detention on Sunday, when her sick baby was just four days old.

Read the full article.

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:35+10:00 November 14th, 2013|Mothers and Babies in Detention|

Australian Press Council Advice on the Use of the Term “Illegal”

‘Asylum seekers’, ‘illegal immigrants’ and entry without a visa: Australian Press Council

The legal status of people who have entered Australia by boat without a visa is complex and potentially confusing. Their entry is not legally authorised but is not a criminal offence. The Australian Government usually refers to such entrants as “unauthorised boat arrivals” or “irregular maritime arrivals” but they are also “unlawful non-citizens” under the Migration Act.

Read the full article on the APC website.

By | 2013-11-07T12:16:00+10:00 November 7th, 2013|Government|