Monthly Archives: August 2016

Urgent Call for a National Summit on Humanitarian Innovation: a better way for Australia

From the Josephite Justice Office.  On this day, when we are marking 150 years of the life and work of the Sisters of St Joseph, we are united in our concern for those pushed to the edge of our society at this time.  Together with many Australians, we join in urging the Government and the Opposition to urgently host a National Summit to consider alternative approaches to our current asylum seeker policy.

There is no doubt that Australia’s present policy regarding the global issue of people seeking safety is unsustainable, unsafe, and does not offer protection to people who need it.   In the absence of alternatives being promulgated by either government or the opposition, or by relevant government departments, a new approach is imperative.

We strongly believe that there are credible and innovative international law-compliant alternatives to current policy.

For this reason, we commit ourselves to working with those organisations with expertise and experience in the refugee and asylum seeker sector, who have been developing viable alternatives.   We believe that a bi-partisan commitment by both major Parties will enable all of us to focus debate on the possibilities of a better way.   A national summit, established by a consensus of all Parties, will enable us to explore and chart viable alternatives, which are compliant with international law and human rights.

In the short-term, we urge the Government to consider granting a one-off amnesty to refugees currently on Nauru and Manus Island.   This could be the first step in a process, which will enable justice to be enacted, both for those seeking asylum and for us as Australians.

Josephite Justice Office
PO Box 1508 North Sydney NSW 2059

By | 2018-01-04T16:13:40+00:00 August 18th, 2016|Alternative Policies, Front - Hot Topics, Press Releases|

Media Release: Catholic Orders from across Australia call for Amnesty for the people in detention camps saying #BringThemHere!

AUGUST 18 2016: Sisters from Catholic religious orders across Australia will today sign a statement calling on the Prime Minister to issue an amnesty for those suffering intolerable cruelty in Australia’s offshore detention camps, and back a call for a Summit on Solutions to take the politics out of refugee policy.

Sr Monica Cavanagh, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph, said that the celebration of 150 years of the life and work of Saint Mary Mackillop, being celebrated here in Sydney this week, motivated Catholic Orders to do what Sister Mary would have done, which is to “ask that the people seeking asylum on Manus Island and Nauru, be brought here to Australia”.

“In the context of the imminent closure of the Manus camp – announced yesterday by the PNG and Australian Government – the men on Manus must be granted this amnesty and brought to Australia, not to some other temporary or unsafe context”, Sr Monica said.

Speaking at Mary Mackillop Place in Sydney today, Sr Monica said “after people are brought here to safety, we fully support the call for a Summit on Solutions, so that the best alternatives can be thrashed out in a bipartisan way”.

“We are making a personal appeal to Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten: please put human dignity above politics by agreeing to work together.”

Also speaking at the celebrations for Saint Mary Mackillop today, Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, said that: “we don’t accept the argument that it’s impossible to bring people here for fear of the people smuggling trade re-starting.

“We can’t wait for more children to be abused in the offshore camps for alternatives to be put in place. That’s why Catholic Sisters from across Australia are calling for a one-off amnesty for people in the offshore centres-this is less than 2000 people!”

“Most of these people have already been found to be refugees. They have endured enough. Let’s empty the camps.”

“We also don’t accept that Australia has to turn people seeking asylum back to the countries from which they’ve fled, in order to have a sound policy framework.

“There are alternative solutions that are being ignored because of partisan debates. We need a Summit of Solution now to force our leaders to put safety above politics.

Photos available on request.

Media Inquiries and comment:

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

Peter Stahel (Essential Media) 0408 584 439

 

By | 2018-01-04T16:13:41+00:00 August 18th, 2016|Front - News, Press Releases|

Press Release: Nauru child abuse – “the government knew and did nothing”

AUGUST 10 2016: The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce says the Nauru files released today corroborate previous allegations submitted to the government and the Moss Review as far back as 2014.

Misha Coleman, Executive Director of the Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce: “The files released today corroborate the allegations made in letters from detainees which were smuggled out of the Nauru camp and given to the Taskforce in 2014.

“These were allegations that were completely ignored. They were a horrific red flag to the scale of abuse and the government did nothing. The government knew. It then did nothing to prevent the ongoing daily acts of abuse committed on children and women especially. The letters detailed a range of abuse cases including a rape and an alleged cover-up of that rape – it’s clear from the files released today that the situation has sunk to unholy depths.”

At the time, the Taskforce Chair called for a Royal Commission into the systemic and gross abuse of children, mums and dads occurring every day in these camps are funded by Australian taxpayers. Taskforce Chair, The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt:

“We had called for a Royal Commission into the offshore camps after some of the key issues raised in the report were referred back to the Nauruan police, in which we have no confidence whatsoever.

“Today however, we’re calling on the Australian Government to immediately bring these innocent people from Nauru, here to Australia, and then to immediately establish a Royal Commission into these sorry offshore detention camps. In the same way that the government reacted swiftly and correctly to the expose of the abuse at Dondale Detention Centre, we call on the government to react swiftly and bring people here to Australia, out of harm’s way.”

Available for interview:
Rev’d Peter Catt: 0404 052 494
Misha Coleman: 0428 399 739

 

Minor Party Senate Results

Here are some features of the minor party Senate result (with thanks to Anglicare SQ SRC)

·         Victoria: Derryn Hinch (Justice Party) gained a seat, and Ricky Muir lost his – http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/08-03e.htm

·         Queensland: One Nation has 2 seats confirmed and Glen Lazarus (formerly Palmer United) lost his seat – http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/08-04e.htm

·         New South Wales: One Nation won  a new seat and David Leyonhjelm  (Liberal Democrat) retained his- http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/08a-04e.htm   

·         South Australia: 3 Nick Xenophon Senate seats won  and Bob Day (Family First) retained his seat – http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/08-02e.htm

·         Western Australia: One Nation has effectively won the Palmer seat (Dio Wang) – http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/08-01e.htm

·         Tasmania: Jacqui Lambie retained her seat and progressive ALP Senator Lisa Singh retained her seat – http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/07a-27e.htm

·         Northern Territory – one ALP and one Coalition Senator http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/07-25e.htm

·         ACT: one ALP and one Coalition Sneator http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/08a-01e.htm

 

By | 2018-01-04T16:13:41+00:00 August 8th, 2016|Government|

Refugee and immigration related policies of the minor parties: Federal Election 2016

Nick Xenaphon Team (NXT)

https://nxt.org.au   

 Refugees and Asylum Seekers

  • Acknowledges boat turn backs as bipartisan approach, but should be matched by 27,000 humanitarian intake.
  • Voted for the majority of the regressive changes made to the Migration Act introduce by Minister Scott Morrison.
  • Priority given to timely resettlement working with UNHCR, and focus on regional solutions.
  • Depending on the claim process, individuals must either be returned to their country of origin where safe and practical to do so, or settled in another country with the UNHCR.
  • Government must ensure the safety and security of refugees in offshore processing centres, including timely health and mental health care.
  • International agencies such as the UNHCR, Red Cross and media organisations should have access to any detention centres.
  • Whistleblowers must be protected for speaking out.

Foreign Aid

  • Restore the $7.6b of aid funding cut by the Australian government in the 2014 budget.
  • Work towards a foreign aid budget that represents 0.7% of Gross National Income, in line with commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.

Immigration

  • Continue to encourage orderly immigration to Australia, in particular amongst younger skilled families and investors.
  • A special category of visa should be created to encourage investors to settle in areas of low population and economic growth.

Liberal Democrats

http://ldp.org.au/policy/

Unauthorized arrivals and refugees

  • We should provide sanctuary for people fleeing political oppression and persecution.
  • All arrivals subject to temporary detention for preliminary health and security checks. Those refused admission on health or security grounds will be deported.
  • After initial checks people can then apply for PR either by paying the immigration fee, being awarded an immigration scholarship or loan, or by applying for admission on humanitarian grounds as a refugee.
  • The process of determining refugee status will be limited to a tribunal of first instance and a single court of appeal. Both will be open to the public unless closed for a reason.
  • While awaiting a decision, unauthorized arrivals can apply for temporary release subject to payment of bail equivalent to the immigration tariff plus bail-like reporting conditions. Applicants will be permitted to work. Anyone can offer to post bail.

Foreign Aid

  • Aid to foreign countries by the Australian government, other than short-term humanitarian relief following natural disasters, should cease.
  • Donations by private individuals to foreign aid projects should neither be encouraged nor discouraged by the government.
  • Greater transparency for organisations that accept donations for the purposes of providing aid

Immigration

  • Negotiate Free Immigration Agreements (FIAs) with compatible countries to allow unrestricted movement of citizens between those countries.
  • Replace the current points-based quota system with a tariff system where immigrants pay for the right to become a permanent resident (PR) in Australia.
  • No eligibility for welfare for PRs except where reciprocal arrangements have been established through a FIA.
  • Increase barriers to citizenship so Australia can sustain a high level of immigration.
  • Applicants for citizenship should have resided in Australia for at least 10 years, passed a citizenship test (in English), provide evidence of likely continued employment (or means to support themselves), links to the Australian community and no criminal record.
  • Children born in Australia to Australian PRs will be Australian citizens automatically.

Family First

www.familyfirst.org.au

Foreign Aid

  • Aid and relief payments from donor countries are, and will remain, important mechanisms for funding health, education, housing and development initiatives. But the primary focus must be on the sustainable relief of poverty best achieved through tariff reductions, free trade agreements and stable institutions.
  • Australia should set a target of committing 1% of its Gross National Income (GNI) to foreign aid. This is almost four times our current commitment, which plummeted to 0.27% in 2014.
  • Where foreign aid is provided, it is preferable it is provided to non-government organisations providing relief work on the ground, rather than foreign governments.

Immigration

  • Support an end to exploitation by people smugglers, an enterprise condemning asylum seekers to death by drowning at sea. Australia must support and invest in a safer migration system that ensures, in particular, that two types of migrant are accepted into Australia in increasing number.
  • Economic migrants who can provide the skills Australia needs to meet its future challenges
  • Persecuted people who, beyond reasonable doubt, face death or serious harm if they return to their home countries, but who are also people who will integrate into Australian society and respect & support Australia’s Christian heritage and values.
  • Support calls to reasonably increase the annual refugee intake, subject to the two types above (including plan by the Liberal National Party to increase to 18,750 by 2018/19).

Jacqui Lambie Network   

www.http://lambienetwork.com.au

  • No refugee specific policy.
  • Halve the Foreign Aid Budget and redirect to Higher Education (from .6% to 1% of GDP)

One Nation

www.onenation.com.au

Illegal immigration and asylum seekers

  • Anyone arriving without paperwork immediately denied entry and sent back to their last known port before arrival or their homeland.
  • People smuggling to carry a minimum jail term of 10 years, served in an Indonesian prison. The crew on the boats to do a 2 year jail term in Indonesia.
  • Refugees to be granted a temporary protection visa to be reviewed every 2 years. Depending on circumstances, sent back to their homeland if no longer under threat.
  • Family reunion will not be available to those granted refugees status until such time that they may be granted permission to apply for Australian citizenship.
  • All refugees must clear a health check as required by law. 
  • Terminate being a signatory to the outdated 1951 UNHCR Refugee Convention

Immigration

  • Balanced, zero net immigration (subject to review depending on economic conditions)
  • An immediate review of our immigration is necessary until the economy has recovered,
  • A five-year wait for new migrants to become Australian citizens. English is a requirement for citizenship. If they commit a criminal offence that carries with it a jail term of 1 year, they would automatically be denied citizenship and deported.
  • Social security would not be available for new migrants for a period of five years. 
  • Before arrival, migrants would be required to pass a complete and thorough health check before acceptance is granted, including checks for AIDS, Hepatitis and TB.

Other related areas:

  • Call for a Royal Commission into Islam
  • Abolish multiculturalism
  • Ban halal

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party
www.justiceparty.com.au

By | 2018-01-04T16:13:41+00:00 August 8th, 2016|Government|

So what difference will the election make to policies determining people seeking protection?

By the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project, www.BASP.org.au

There was almost a conspiracy of silence about refugees and asylum seekers during the election campaign—except for a few forays into the ‘control of our borders’ with both major parties assuring us that they would be the best at managing this. This can presumably be translated into ‘we will continue the harshest treatment we can’ towards anyone daring to seek protection in Australia.

Whoever forms Government, they will have to negotiate with some of the ‘others’ in the Parliament. We have the anomaly that these include the Greens (long term supporters of a more humane approach), some Independents who are also in favour of a compassionate and a changed deal for asylum seekers and the flip side of the coin including the vociferous Pauline Hansen and her One Nation party.

All those, we at BASP are trying to support in their quest for some security ask, ‘What does the election mean for us? How is it going?’ So once again, we have this relatively small group of people, asking only for safety and kindness, at the mercy of the domestic political turmoil. We have suggested before, and reiterate again, that it is necessary to move the discussion on asylum, people smuggling and refugee movements to a neutral space. We suggest the establishment of a new structure that has the management of asylum seekers separate from border control and determined by objective, eminent citizens acting under another government department, for example the Justice Department. The Immigration Department is responsible for the movement in and out of Australia of millions of people each year and the policies surrounding immigrants to Australia. Protecting people’s rights to request country resettlement under the Refugee Convention lies outside this major responsibility and has proven to be at odds with a preoccupation with ‘border control’. Asylum seekers are not immigrants, so by definition they should not fit under our immigration policy.

We ask for leadership that is conscious that every time a minister or person makes a statement about Australia not accepting asylum seekers, there are people in a state of total insecurity listening for clues about their future. Statements about refugees being illiterate and looking to take jobs from the rest of the population both denigrate and frighten the poor people here waiting for answers about their future.

At BASP, we face, almost daily, the consequences for people who have been detained both on the Australian mainland and in offshore detention. We therefore hope the settling of the present black holes in the treatment of asylum seekers will be a high priority for the new government. This could involve establishing open reception places for asylum seekers rather than putting them indefinitely in detention. It would certainly mean taking people off the islands on Nauru and Manus and bringing them to Australia.

By | 2018-01-04T16:13:42+00:00 August 3rd, 2016|Latest News, Press Releases|