A Media Release from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Given the likely failure of the refugee arrangement with the United States, Australian Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull should announce an amnesty and bring the asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus to Australia. Read the full release.
They want the government to reveal how many people will be resettled, under what conditions, and how long will it take.
It comes as key crossbench senators threaten to vote against the Government’s proposed asylum seeker visa laws that would ban those who arrived by boat from mid-2013 from ever entering Australia.
Misha Coleman is the Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.
Speaking to NewsRadio’s Glen Bartholomew, she says the deal with the US raises more questions than it answers.
A “one-off” bilateral agreement that will see some refugees on Manus Island and Nauru resettle in the United States lacks detail and leaves many questions unanswered, refugee advocates say.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced the deal on Sunday morning that will see the 1800 detainees encouraged to return home, seek resettlement in the US or face an indefinite stay in the Nauruan community… read the full story.
31 October 2016: Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce says Australian Government bid to enshrine ban on refugees in law will create further “fear, uncertainty and trauma” by David Adams, Sight Magazine. Christian refugee advocates have said proposed laws aimed at banning refugees permanently from ever obtaining a visa to Australia will “create further fear, uncertainty and trauma” among those who have ever been transferred to the regional processing centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. Read the full story…
Press Release: Bans on refugees to be enshrined in bad and sad legislation, and call on the Senate to block it
30 October 2016: New laws, to be rushed into parliament when MPs return to Canberra next week, mean that many people who have been found to be refugees will be banned from ever obtaining an Australian visa of any kind, even as a tourist.
The legislation will create further fear, uncertainty and trauma to anyone who has ever been transferred to a regional processing centre.
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, which represents over 930 Christian entities around Australia, said today that “the Government clearly has no plan. Mr Turnbull has just not been able to find a solution, an alternative nor a long term plan. Introducing legislation to keep people locked up forever will never be a solution that the Christian members of the Taskforce will accept”.
She said that “there ARE alternatives, and we’ll be releasing a package of policy options, which the government has failed to find itself, in the same week as this draconian legislation will be introduced into the House of Representatives”.
She also said that “this legislation will drastically affect 310 people seeking asylum that I speak to regularly, here in Melbourne and in suburbs around Australia, who are largely young families with small children.
The legislation is called The Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill and Christians around Australia will be called to action to prevent the passage of this bill and to support alternatives.
She said that “The Government’s policy of offshore detention is in disarray – they need to find a resolution for people who are withering away in the offshore camps, but the government can only come up with punitive plans to distract from the fact that they don’t have a plan, they don’t know what they are doing.”
“In the meantime, churches around Australia will call on their elected Senators to block this legislation.”
Media Inquiries and comment:
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739
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
MAY 5 2016: A 21-year-old Somali refugee has set herself alight on Nauru in what is the second attempted self-immolation on the island in a week.
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce said:
“People are not seeking attention – they are trying to end their lives.
“After years on Nauru, with absolutely no end in sight, their depression is so acute that ending their lives appears to them to be their only “resettlement option”.
“The system is designed to break the spirit of refugees to give up on their right to seek asylum. They have no hope and this tragedy is the result.
“There are other options Prime Minister. No other country in the world has a policy as cruel as this. Enough!
“Statements from the Government of Nauru blaming victims and advocates are a sad reflection of the influence of money in the relationship with the Australian Government that ignores human rights,” Ms Coleman said.
Media contact: Peter Stahel 0408 584 439
Misha Coleman, executive officer of the Australia Churches Refugee Task Force, said in a statement that the new money was part of a “budget bonanza” for bad refugee policy.
“Cambodia is one of the few countries that has escaped an aid budget cut, while neighbouring Vietnam, Laos and [Myanmar] were all hit with 40 [per cent] budget cuts. I must say that the Cambodia government are great negotiators though,” she said.
“By agreeing to take up to 10 refugees from Australia and Nauru each year for four years, the aid budget provided nearly [A]$40 million. That’s $1 million [per] refugee, and that was only the original agreement; we’re now paying even more on top of the original deal”.
Speaking from Treasury after being released from the lock-up, Executive Officer Misha Coleman said; “the boats still haven’t stopped, but money keeps pouring down the sink for offshore detention. With images today of 8000 people sweltering in misery in boats in the Malacca Straits, how long can we continue the politics of deterrence, with a price tag of $811 million a year”.