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HomeHost Accommodation Information

This guide is designed to provide initial information for prospective HomeHosts or support volunteers. Hosts may eventually be linked with a State or Territory service for advice or training, so this guide acts as an entry point for thinking about what might be expected in hosting an asylum seeker who is destitute and therefore homeless. The foundational principle of HomeHost is the belief that no person lawfully residing in Australia should be forced into homelessness through the removal of access to financial or housing support.

Download the document here.

By | 2018-05-08T10:58:36+00:00 May 8th, 2018|Dignity not Destitution, Latest News|

The Syrian Conflict and a Faithful Response

Léon Cognie’s image depicting the events of Matthew 2: 16-18 is based on the ordering of the massacre of all the boys 2 years and under, by Herod.  In the painting mothers are fleeing from Herod’s soldiers clutching their babies.  The hand covering the baby’s mouth, suggests the need for silence, to retain life.

The mother’s fear is palpable and it impossible to turn away from the striking image of her face.

This image starkly reminds us, another massacre is occurring in Syria today andwe cannot remain silent.

March 15th 2018 marks the 7th year of the conflict in Syria.  Over 500,000 people have been killed in the conflict during this time with the toll rising every day. Currently, nearly 400,000 civilians are trapped in Eastern Ghouta as Syria’s government rages war on the community.

Ms. Carmen Lazar, Deputy Chair Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce and Manager Assyrian Australian Association – Assyrian Resource Centre;

“Even the UN no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering.  I have nothing to tell my Syrian clients here in Australia, who are distressed every day when more people die and more people are displaced.  They fear for their families, community and country.

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce urge members to support the Syrian people where they can.

How you can support

Donate

Since the beginning of the violence, the ACT Alliance, a coalition of more than 140 churches and church-related organisations, have been working together a provide humanitarian relief to affected people and communities in Syria and in the surrounding countries.   In Australia Act for Peace are working with ACT Alliance members internationally and you can find more information here  https://www.actforpeace.org.au/syria?s=AFP-NEWS-1605-WEB22

Write

Write to your local MP, Senator or Minister for Foreign Affairs expressing your deep concern to see further peaceful interventions regarding the Syrian conflict.

You can find contact information for Senators and Parliament Members here https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Guidelines_for_Contacting_Senators_and_Members

A number of faith based justice agencies have great tips for how best to write to a Member of Parliament.

Some suggested points to raise (using your own words is always more effective)

Thank the Government for committing to the 12,000 permanent places for vulnerable Syrian refugees.  (These places were in addition to the13,750 places available under Australia’s 2016–17 Humanitarian Program and have now been filled).  Request consideration of expanding this program given the current level of violence.
Thank the Government for providing the $220 million for three years to address the humanitarian and longer-term resilience needs in Syria and neighbouring countries hosting large numbers of refugees.  Request a further financial commitment given the current need.
Request that all members of Government provide ongoing international leadership for resolution of the conflict, matched by the Australian Government scaling up its financial and resource commitments to the Syrian population and host communities.
Urge the Government to strongly reject the use of chemical weapons under the Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons (23 January 2018 and work collaboratively with other partners to stop the practice.  https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/french-foreign-policy/disarmament-and-non-proliferation/events/article/chemical-weapons-ending-impunity-23-01-18
Request information about what other measures the Australian Government is taking to resolve the conflict and create safety for the refugee and internally displaced population.

Visit your local Member of Parliament

Visiting your local MP can be an effective way of influencing policy, although it can be difficult to secure a meeting.

Only a small percentage of people actually take the time to visit their MP because they are not necessarily sure of the best way to approach.  Caritas has a great kit for getting the best outcomes here http://www.caritas.org.au/docs/default-source/campaigns/mp-kit

Pray

Use the image of the Massacre of the Innocents (Léon Cogniet 1824) or any number of images from the Syrian conflict, to prayfully reflect with your community on the people of Syria.   

 

By | 2018-03-16T14:01:25+00:00 March 15th, 2018|Latest News|

Media Release: Australian Christian Churches Weep for the Massacre of the Innocents

March 15th 2018: The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) notes that the 15th March 2018 marks 7 years of conflict in Syria, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions displaced from their home.

Léon Cognie’s artwork Massacre of the Innocents, depicting the events of Matthew 2: 16-18 is based on the ordering of the massacre of all the boys 2 years and under, by Herod.  In the painting mothers are fleeing from Herod’s soldiers clutching their babies.  The hand covering the baby’s mouth, suggests the need for silence, to retain life.

The mother’s fear is palpable and it impossible to turn away from the striking image of her face.  This image starkly reminds us, another massacre is occurring in Syria today and we cannot remain silent.

Ms. Carmen Lazar, Deputy Chair Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce and Manager Assyrian Australian Association – Assyrian Resource Centre;

“Even the UN no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering.  I have nothing to tell my Syrian clients here in Australia, who are distressed every day when more people die and more people are displaced.  They fear for their families, community and country.”

The Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce Chair;
“We celebrate that Australia has given sanctuary to 12,000 Syrians over the past three years and contributed support funding.  But we urge the Australian Government to do more to assist in this conflict, as we see so many more children dying and families being ripped apart.”

The ACRT also remains deeply concerned at the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict and notes the Australian Government’s involvement in the Launch of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons (23 January 2018).  Through this Partnership and the Chemical Weapons Convention Australia must retain a strong stance against the use of such weapons.

In 2018 the ACRT will support members to continue to take action on the Syrian conflict.  Suggestions for action have been included on the ACRT website alongside actions for other refugee concerns.

Media inquiries may be directed to:

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

Caz Coleman
Executive Officer
0411 876 226

By | 2018-03-15T10:09:46+00:00 March 15th, 2018|Latest News, Press Releases|

Australian Christian Churches call for compassion for refugees

December 21st 2017: The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce calls on all members of Government to abandon the policy for those transferred to Nauru and Manus Island, to never be allowed entry to Australia.

As the Christian Churches enter a season of celebration for the life, struggle for justice and compassion that Jesus gave to the world, we draw strength to keep working for the same justice and compassion.

We implore leaders in Government in Australia to end the suffering of those whom have spent more than five years in closed detention, and move immediately to bring them to Australia.

We mourn for those experiencing conflict or violence in detention centres or in the community, living in places in which they have no future.

We weep for separated families and the pain of the longing to be re-united and find a safe home.

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“As the festive season in the Christian calendar commences we say to all those suffering in Nauru and PNG that we have not forgotten you and will not abandon you.  We will continue to call for your return to Australia and also work to find a way to provide compassion and care in the meantime.”

 The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, in collaboration with other faith based agencies, have been engaging with PNG churches to explore the opportunities to provide support and care not only to the refugee men, but the Manus Island residents, at this time.

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“We know that PNG has issues of concern for its population and its nation and we stand with our ecumenical partners in PNG who struggle with this.  But for the context on Manus Island we recognise this is not the fault of the refugees, the PNG locals or their Government.  Australia wanted a quick fix to a situation which has turned into a protracted and harmful experience for many.  The situation has put enormous ethical pressure on all involved and we cannot stand aside to simply witness the suffering”.

 In 2018 the ACRT will work with other faith based organisations to explore options for further support to our PNG ecumenical partners in the challenges of this situation.  The ACRT is firmly committed to the relocation of the refugee men on Manus Island, but understands the need for a compassionate, collaborative response across the community.

Media inquiries may be directed to:

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

Caz Coleman
Executive Officer
0411 876 226

By | 2018-03-15T10:21:12+00:00 December 21st, 2017|Press Releases|

Joint Policy Briefing: Australia’s approach to private/community sponsorship of refugees

4 December 2017 Joint Policy Briefing: Australia’s approach to private/community sponsorship of refugees

We are leading organisations in the refugee and humanitarian sector and have prepared this joint policy briefing to suggest ways in which the government can enable members of the Australian community to play a greater role in helping Australia respond to the global refugee crisis, which is now unprecedented in scale.

Our agencies were among the dozens of organisations including Australian businesses, philanthropic organisations and civil society groups who recently gathered to discuss the future of private refugee sponsorship in Australia, with the overarching goal of enhancing Australia’s response to the global refugee crisis… Download the full report

By | 2018-01-04T16:13:35+00:00 December 4th, 2017|Front - Hot Topics, Front - News, Press Releases|

Media Release: Australian Christian Churches stand in unity for compassion, justice and dignity for refugees in Manus Island, PNG.

24 November 2017 Please note this is a joint media release between the National Council of Churches in Australia, Act for Peace and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

Australian Christian Churches stand in unity for compassion, justice and dignity for refugees in Manus Island, PNG.

The National Council of Churches in Australia, Act for Peace and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce stand together to bear witness to the suffering that Australia’s bipartisan refugee policy in regard to offshore processing, has caused.

 We mourn the loss of justice for those refugees in PNG who are willing to put their own bodies in danger as the last cry of despair in the search for a safe future.

 We pray for Australian Government leadership who may not have envisaged such suffering in re-enacting offshore processing, but who now cannot shy from the reality of the damage that has been done.

 We stand with the Manus Island and PNG people who are facing the presumption that they are not a safe and hospitable nation and cannot be trusted to host these vulnerable men.

We plead that if the men are to remain in PNG for now, that force is not used to relocate them and that the Australian Government contributes to securing their dignity and safety.

We request that the Australian Government ensure the processing of re-settlement for these men occurs safely, swiftly and with the greatest regard to family unity.

National Council of Churches in Australia President Bishop Phillip Huggins:

“It is difficult to understand how a nation like Australia has found itself in this situation.  Other countries face far greater challenges with hosting refugees and struggling with unexpected arrivals.  Australia’s current situation has put enormous, unnecessary ethical pressure on all involved and needs to be resolved peacefully and swiftly”. 

 

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:

“We know that PNG has issues of concern for its own population and its nation.  For the context on Manus Island we recognise this is not the fault of the refugees, the PNG locals or their Government.  Australia wanted a quick fix to a situation which has turned into a protracted and harmful experience for many.”

 

Act for Peace Executive Director Ms. Janet Cousens

“There are many lessons to learn from this situation that show us that even with the intention to save lives at sea or reduce human trafficking, that damage and suffering has still been caused to many people.”

 

Media inquiries may be directed to:

 

 

Bishop Phillip Huggins

President

National Council of Churches in Australia

0418799515

 

The Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt

Chair

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce

0404052494

 

Caz Coleman

Executive Officer

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce

0411876226

 

 

 

Caz Coleman

Executive Officer

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce

0411876226

ccoleman@actforpeace.org.au

Media Release: Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce urge adherence to international measures on the use of force and securement for Manus Island transfer.

November 14 2017 The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) maintains the belief that those whom sought Australia’s protection, and were transferred to Nauru and Manus Island PNG, have suffered enough.  The failed attempt to regionally re-settlement this group for more than four years has resulted in personal suffering, deaths and international condemnation from the United Nations.  The imperative now is to secure a safe place for re-settlement, or at the least, a safe place to continue the search for a sustainable re-settlement option.

However, in the instance that the Australian Government refuses to bring these men to safety, the ACRT urges PNG to uphold international measures, through various United Nations international instruments, to avoid using force to coerce, remove or evict vulnerable people from their place of stay.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“We support the PNG Government in the directive of their own security forces not to use force on the refugees who are refusing to leave the detention centre.  Where fear drives a refusal to relocate for the refugees and where a history of suffering is embedded in this fear, we urge the PNG Government to continue to avoid the use of force to relocate refugees to alternative locations.”

Many ACRT member churches have partner churches in PNG and have concerns about the way PNG is being cast as a violent and uruly nation in response to the refugees residing on Manus Island.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“We know that PNG has issues of concern for its population and its nation.  Australia’s history in PNG is a contributing factor to the challenges and poverty in PNG.  But for the context on Manus Island we recognise this is not the fault of the refugees, the PNG locals or their Government.  Australia wanted a quick fix to a situation which has turned into a protracted and harmful experience for many.  The situation has put enormous ethical pressure on all involved and needs to be resolved peacefully.”

The ACRT urges the Australian Government to address the fears of the refugees who remain in the former detention centre.  Without a resolution that either involves immediate transfer to Australia or heightened security, food and housing safety in the alternative accommodation, fears for the men’s health and wellbeing escalate each day.

There should be no reason that additional measures to address the men’s concerns cannot be put in place to resolve the short term situation.

Media inquiries may be directed to:
The Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt
Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
0404052494

Caz Coleman
ACRT Executive Officer
0411876226

Media Release: ACRT acknowledge refugee fear as centre closes on Manus Island PNG

2 November 2017

The ACRT recognises that the offshore processing arrangements when first proposed by the Expert Panel in 2012, were never designed to be protracted in Nauru or on Manus Island PNG. The aim was always for safe re-settlement regionally and was clearly articulated in the Expert Panel report to create such protection.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“The outcome of offshore detention for a second time in Australia’s history has created a serious breach of human rights and a devastating fear for those who are experiencing it. There are times when we have to face that harm has been done and that restitution is necessary.”

Whilst any durable solution for those on Nauru and in Manus Island through the US deal is welcome, there is no reason such arrangements cannot proceed in Australia. Achieving safety is the core purpose of the Refugee Convention. The situation on Manus Island PNG is clearly not safe for the refugees living there. Rather than blaming the local Manus island residents, it must be acknowledged that Australian Government leaders over the past 4 years have failed to recognise the dangers of warehousing refugees in communities and countries who have their own disadvantage, struggles and conflicts.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“There is a strong system in place to prevent boats coming to Australia, so achieving safe re-settlement for those in Nauru and the Manus Island reception centre is an imperative. The level of harm may not have been originally intended by the Expert Panel in their recommendations, or by either side of Government, but it has happened. It is enough and we must learn from this.”

It is time to end attempts to abrogate Australia’s responsibility to care for and process those seeking our protection. Upholding Australia’s own responsibilities and working within the region to create sustainable solutions is the only way to achieve safety and dignity for each person requesting protection.

Media inquiries may be directed to:
The Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt
Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
0404052494

Media Release: ACRT affirms Liberal MP’s call to find durable solutions for refugees and close Nauru and Manus.

August 17th 2017: The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) applauds backbench MP Russell Broadbent for speaking in parliament about the need to resolve the situation on Nauru and Manus.  

Quoting the author and journalist David Marr, Mr Broadbent pointed to Marr’s comment that there could not be a better service to Christ than for Christians to fight for those Australia has imprisoned in Nauru and Manus.

The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce has worked collaboratively with other agencies across Australia for four years to call for the closure of offshore detention.  The ACRT holds the position that neither Nauru nor Manus, is a durable solution in relation to the integration of refugees in either country.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt:

“We believe that any durable solution for those on Nauru and Manus through the US deal is welcome.  However, we firmly believe that Australia is the place people should have been processed and settled in the first instance.”

The offshore processing arrangements when first proposed by the Expert Panel in 2012, were never designed for integration into Nauru or Manus.  The aim was always for safe re-settlement and is clearly articulated in the report.

“Offshore processing has failed for the second time.  Neither Nauru nor Manus has the capacity or cultural readiness for integration of the refugees who were sent there.  People in both locations continue to live in fear with very few options for safety, dignity and economic sustainability.  Durable solutions must be found in either the US, Australia or another safe location.”

Mr Broadbent’s words in parliament reflect the faithful stance of the ACRT in the call to turn towards the suffering of those on Nauru and Manus and to create safety and dignity.  Australia has tried offshore processing twice now in two decades.  Both attempts have failed to create durable solutions and avoid suffering and permanent harm to those seeking Australia’s protection.

It is time to end attempts to abrogate Australia’s responsibility to care for and process those seeking our protection.  Working within the region to create sustainable solutions and focusing on community based care arrangements, is the only way to uphold the safety and dignity of each person requesting protection.

Media inquiries may be directed to:

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

Churches appeal to Government to show compassion in the face of violence on Manus Island over Easter

15 April 2017: A Media Release from the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce has condemned the violence that erupted on Manus Island on the evening of Good Friday, and calls for the camp to be evacuated. Read the full statement here.