The evolution of the Taskforce is summarised below:
- Act for Peace (AfP) – the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) made monies available to support churches and their agencies that wished to have a stronger voice in refugee and asylum seeker public policy and debate.
- This follows a long history of pro-active interventions by the NCCA and AfP in the public policy space, especially since 2000, which includes 17 submissions to Federal Government Inquiries and Committee, and several resolutions and statements of concern and the most recent being a Motion at the 7th National Forum, the wording of which is attached to this paper. Media statements are also issued on a regular basis by the NCCA.
- While the NCCA is financing the Taskforce, the Taskforce is an independent entity.
- AfP sent a letter to Church leaders and church agency refugee specialists in June 2012, informing them of the establishment of the Australian Church Refugee Network, and calling for nominees for the first teleconference to discuss the purpose and structure – this teleconference took place in August 2012, chaired by Elenie Poulos.
- The paid staff coordinator role, called Executive Officer, commenced formally on 7th November, 2012.
- A brief/ initial introduction about the network was made to the NCCA Executive in November.
- Following this meeting, the General Secretary of the NCCA sent out a letter to Heads of Churches on 14th November asking Churches to contact the Executive Officer, in order to consult Churches and Church agencies about their views on the role, function and demand for the Network, and to nominate members to participate in the initiative.
- Following consultations with more than 100 individuals, the initiative evolved into the National Churches Refugee Taskforce.
It was agreed that the inaugural meeting of the Taskforce would held on 14th February in Melbourne, and at that meeting, the following was decided:
- the terms of reference;
- the model of governance;
- Taskforce Core Group Members;
- workplan priorities for 2013; and
- nominations for potential members of the senior clergy group (The Amos Group)
Foundation members of ACRT
A list of Founding Members is available.