Monthly Archives: February 2016

Churches pray this is the beginning of the end for offshore detention

Media Release 21 February 2016

Churches pray this is the beginning of the end for offshore detention

The Australian Church’s Refugee Taskforce and 80 sanctuary churches across Australia applaud the community effort that has resulted in baby Asha and her family being kept safe here in Australia.

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce has welcomed the government’s decision to show compassion after an intensive campaign by a wide range of social groups including churches.

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Taskforce’s and National coordinator of the Church Sanctuary Movement said that there is one simple reason that this little girl is now going to live in a home in the community – and that’s the people who stood up and demanded better treatment of her – and who refused to allow her to be deported to Nauru.

“Churches have played a critical role in this social movement. We are incredibly proud that churches from numerous denominations and faiths led resistance to un-Christian and unconscionable treatment of people in the offshore detention camps”.

“We continue to stand resolute to offer protection and sanctuary to the 267 vulnerable people who require confidence and certainty in their lives.

“Churches provided offers of sanctuary. These offers stand.

“Today shows the power we have if we stand together in peaceful non violent action. Churches have a proud tradition in this role and we are proud of our role in today’s historic outcome.

“We’re not done yet either. This is the start of a movement in Australia that is determined to see vulnerable people treated with compassion.

Media Contact: Amy Gordon 0410 631 404


St Vincent’s and Calvary to support to asylum seekers wanting church sanctuary

Feb 7 2016:  Sydney Morning Herald. By Kim Arlington.

Two of Australia’s largest Catholic healthcare organisations have offered medical support to hundreds of asylum seekers applying for church sanctuary as they face deportation to Nauru, saying it reflected their “sacred duty” as healing organisations.

St Vincent’s Health Australia and Calvary Health Care have offered to provide medical support to any of the 267 asylum seekers facing imminent transfer to Nauru and are encouraging other hospital groups to do the same. Read the full story.

By | 2016-02-08T15:05:43+10:00 February 7th, 2016|Sanctuary, TV and Radio|

Cathedrals and Churches offer Sanctuary from Nauru

PRESS RELEASE:  4 February, 2016

Cathedrals and Churches around Australia offer Sanctuary to Asylum Seekers Families Facing Deportation to Nauru

Brisbane’s St John’s Anglican Cathedral, amongst others, has been declared a place of sanctuary for asylum seekers facing deportation after yesterday’s High Court decision which allowed for their imminent removal to Nauru (more…)


Anglican Dean of Brisbane, the Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt says he is declaring the church as a sanctuary, given the trauma and abuse these asylum seekers face if deported.

“The High Court’s decision means 267 people including 37 babies face imminent removal to Nauru. They could be issued notices at any time and ordered to leave Australia within 72 hours,” said Dr Catt.

“This is a hugely significant action for any Australian church to take. Historically churches have afforded sanctuary to those seeking refuge from brutal and oppressive forces.

“We offer this refuge because there is irrefutable evidence from health and legal experts that the circumstances asylum seekers, especially children, would face if sent back to Nauru are tantamount to state-sanctioned abuse,” said the Very Rev’d Dr Catt.

“This fundamentally goes against our faith, so our church community is compelled to act, despite the possibility of individual penalty against us. It is an extraordinary step. It is a step that will attract the attention of church communities around the world.”

“The ancient principle of sanctuary goes back to The Old Testament, and was enshrined in English Common Law. Where a state is causing grievous harm, churches can provide sanctuary and immunity from arrest by authorities. The legality of Sanctuary has never been tested under Australian law, nevertheless we are determined to apply its moral precepts and protect the most vulnerable from certain harm.”

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer for the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, said that “Cathedrals that have offered to protect asylum seekers from deportation to a place where people face, rape, sexual assault, and unimaginable conditions, include: St John’s Cathedral Brisbane, St George’s Cathedral Perth and St David’s Cathedral Hobart.

She also said that “many priests and vicars of local churches who feel compelled to provide the moral leadership that their position requires, have also offered Sanctuary. These include: St Matthew’s Anglican Church Albury; The Anglican Church of the Resurrection (Anglican) in Brisbane; St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church Darlington, WA; Perth Wesley Uniting Church; Gosford Anglican Church; GraceTree Baptist Church in Coburg, Melbourne; Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide; St. John’s Uniting Church Essendon; Paddington Anglican Church; Pitt Street Uniting Church and the Wayside Chapel in Sydney. Many other churches have offered to support the Sanctuaries in various ways”.

A press conference will be held on Thursday 4th February at 10.30am with The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt at St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane.

Media spokespeople:

The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce: 0404 052 494

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce: 0428 399 739