Monthly Archives: March 2014

Good Friday Asylum Seeker Prayer Vigil

St Matthews Anglican Church of Glenroy are holding an ecumenical Christian public Prayer Vigil for a more compassionate and humane asylum seeker policy .

At Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH) and St Matthews Anglican Church of Glenroy, we have become increasingly saddened, and outraged, by the Australian Government’s treatment of asylum seekers.

Many of the people being so maltreated by our Government have come to be our friends, and we care for them deeply. We feel despair at the way they are being harmed, and the how we as a nation are loosing our moral compass in the midst of it. We long to see Australia uphold it’s obligations under international law. But moreover, we long for a change in policy; one that is based on welcome and compassion, rather than hostility and fear.

As such, we feel we must demonstrate this publicly, so as to be a sign of another way and ask that God would show us a way out of the darkness.

We would like to invite you to join us at a Prayer Vigil on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne City on Good Friday, between 4 – 6pm.

Through the Prayer Vigil, we hope to connect the issue of seeking asylum to our faith, and in particular the events that took place on Good Friday some 2000 years ago. We seek to highlight the Biblical response to the stranger, and in doing so, encourage other Christians to engage in the issue.

We will carry out an ecumenical public liturgy, as well as carry signs with our key messages on them:

(1) “Forgive us, Father, for we know not what we do”,
(2) “What you do for the least of these you do for me”, and
(3) “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”.

We will also engage in other creative expressions of hope, including songs, art and poetry.

We will also all be wearing a shade of blue, so as to be recognizable as a group.

If this sounds like something you feel you and your church would like to be involved in, please register your interest with Ashlee Planck, contactable at Also, if you would like to contribute to the event on the day, please email

UNOH Melbourne and St Matthews Anglican Church Glenroy

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:22+10:00 March 30th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Taskforce’s Pre-Budget Policy Submission

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce’s Pre-Budget Policy Submission advocates for an urgent and comprehensive review of all spending related to asylum seekers and an end to the needless waste of offshore detention and work rights for asylum seekers.

Download the full document here.



Sunrise Children’s Portraits

Opening Night: Friday March 28 6-8pm

A series of portraits of Cambodian children living at the Sunrise Children’s Villages by artist Abbas Mehran. The exhibition will be opened by Geraldine Cox AM, the founder and president of the Australia Cambodia Foundation and the Sunrise Children’s Villages in Cambodia. The paintings will be sold for the benefit of the children.

Opening: Friday 28 March 6 – 8 pm
Friday 28 to Sunday 30 March
Daily 12-5pm

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:23+10:00 March 26th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Australia’s Guantánamo Problem

On a remote, sunny island, some 52 people have been detained for up to nearly five years without trial on secret evidence, with no prospect of release. A series of suicide attempts since 2012 speaks to their profound suffering. One man attempted to hang himself with a bedsheet. Another tried to electrocute himself. Another drank bleach. Another cut himself and used his blood to leave a message on a wall. All remain in detention; the government dismisses them as attention-seekers. Read the full story by By Ben Saul in the  New York Times.

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:23+10:00 March 25th, 2014|guantanamo, Opinion, The Dilemma of Return to Sri Lanka|

Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014

The Australian Human Rights Commission is currently conducting a national inquiry into the over 1,000 children who are currently in immigration detention in Australia.

As part of this Inquiry we want to hear from as many people as possible. We want to hear about what it’s like for children in immigration detention.

Watch the video for more information.


By | 2018-01-04T16:14:24+10:00 March 21st, 2014|Guardianship of Unaccompanied Children, TV and Radio|

Offshore Processing in Cambodia – Really?

Former First Assistant Secretary of the Refugee, Humanitarian and International Division of the Immigration Department Arja Keski-Nummi comments on the idea of Cambodia as a so-called offshore processing centre. ‘If we were truly serious about regional security and building a sustainable and dynamic regional economy and societies then we would not be offshoring our responsibilities for a small proportion of the world’s asylum seekers.’

Read Arja Keski-Nummi’s full blog post from John Menadue’s website.


By | 2018-01-04T16:14:24+10:00 March 21st, 2014|Opinion|

Modern Slavery – International Ecumenical Consultation on Migration and Human Trafficking

The growing pace of economic globalization coupled with the current state of unemployment and increasing poverty in many developing countries have created more migrant workers than ever before. Poor economic conditions in home communities and high rates of unemployment compel millions of migrant workers from across Asia and Africa to flock to developed countries. According to the International Labour organisation (ILO), there are currently approximately 175 million migrants around the world, roughly half of them workers. Women make up almost half of these migrants.

Read the full report from the April 2014 Consultation from Colombo, Sri Lanka


By | 2014-03-21T12:10:20+10:00 March 21st, 2014|Church Policies, Statements and Reports|

Jobless, asylum-seekers can fill work gaps rather than 457 Visas

Statement by Bishop Philip Huggins, Chair, Melbourne Anglican Social Responsibilities Committee

With the Federal Government reportedly deciding to reopen a subclass 457 Visa loophole, questions must be asked regarding the need for more s457 Visas at this time in the economic cycle.

The subclass 457 visa is designed to enable eligible employers to respond to short-to-medium-term skill shortages in their business that cannot be filled from the local labour market.

Unemployment of both a structural and geographic kind is a deep concern. Last week’s unemployment data shows the official rate is still at 6%, the highest for a number of years.

Recent work by the Brotherhood of St Laurence points additionally  to concerning levels of youth unemployment. The youth unemployment figure is 12.2% nationally, up from 8.8% in 2008. (

Moreover, if a new labour force is needed even in this context, there are some 20,000 asylum-seekers in the Australian community, mostly young and desperate to work who could fill any vacant places. Some of them probably come from the same poor countries from which employers will source labour for these s457 visas. Furthermore, allegations that two Melbourne companies have been exploiting low-paid Chinese workers, were also reported in the media over the weekend.  (“Chinese plasterers exploited by rogue companies at two big sites”The Age 15/3/14.) These allegations raise questions about providing more 457 Visas.

Instead, we should be giving support to our own young people, giving them pathways through training to these employment opportunities. We have seen the despair of young people facing long-term unemployment. We want to give young people hope about a meaningful future, including the dignity of work.

Additionally, the World Council of Churches expresses rising concern for the plight of vulnerable migrant workers, most recently in the attached paper prepared for a forthcoming conference in Sri Lanka. An earlier paper was released in 2011:

Our duty of care to all people means we need greater clarity from the Federal Government as to the necessity for more of these visas and the proper protection of migrant workers who may be so employed.


Contact: Bishop Philip Huggins on 9653 4243 or 0418 799 515 


By | 2014-03-21T12:04:32+10:00 March 21st, 2014|Latest News, Press Releases|