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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.

 

Day of Prayer and Fasting for Refugees: March 5

In October 2016 the leaders of Churches met for conversation and to support each other.  At this meeting they decided that the first Sunday of Lent, 5 March 2017, will be a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

The NCCA has put together resources to assist with reflection, prayer, reading and study.  These documents represent a collection of some of the wonderful resources that have been gathered from our Churches. Find out more!

By | February 7th, 2017|Front - Hot Topics|

Enough! Declare an amnesty today!

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.

ABC NewsRadio: Government Refugee Plan Only Raises More Questions

Listen now

The Greens say the Federal Government needs to end the secrecy over its “deal” with the United States to resettle refugees from Manus Island and Nauru.

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.

Government plan to settle refugees in the US ‘no plan’: refugee advocates

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.

Media Release: Australian Churches welcome government recognition of the trauma caused by Nauru and Manus

13th November 2016: The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce says the acknowledgement from the Turnbull government today that the cruel refugee prisons on Nauru and Manus are unsustainable is welcome and long overdue, and the Taskforce will closely monitor any deals, to ensure that safe and fair resettlement is the ultimate priority.

General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Sister Elizabeth Delaney, which represents 19 Christian churches in Australia, said today that “people in churches across Australia today are thanking God that our Government has finally understood that Australians will not tolerate the cruelty being inflicted on people who’ve been incarcerated indefinitely in remote, desolate locations within Nauru and Manus Province”.

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce said:

“The fact that government has finally acknowledged that the refugee prisons are unsustainable means we are cautiously optimistic that we may be coming to the end of cruel and archaic offshore processing.”

“We also reject the need to send people who are currently here in Australia, the Let Them Stay group, back to Nauru, before they are eligible for resettlement to the US or elsewhere – that is playing games with families here, many who have very young children”.

“The devil is in the detail. We are particularly worried about the linking of the ‘lifetime refugee ban’ legislation with this announcement, specifically for the 20 families on Nauru who have family here in Australia”.

“Every single refugee must be given safe and fair resettlement. That is the only standard by which any international deal can be determined a success”.

“Not a single person must be left behind. The Turnbull government cannot think that sending some people to the US will distract from the further misery of others.

“If we needed any more proof that the lifetime refugee ban was motivated by nothing more than ugly partisan politics then we now have it. This announcement today exposes the ban completely as even more irrelevant.”

Media inquiries and comment:

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

Peter Stahel (Essential Media) 0408 584 439

By | November 14th, 2016|Front - Hot Topics, Press Releases|

Media Release: Churches welcome ALP decision on proposed refugee ban

8 November 2016:  An attempt to enshrine in law a total ban on all refugees who have no choice but to flee over oceans has been called out by the ALP, and we hope that other parties will follow the moral leadership shown by Mr Shorten today, says the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

Speaking from Parliament House in Canberra today, Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce said:

“This disgraceful proposal has been called out. But it’s not off the table yet, and we continue to worry about the potential for horse-trading over potential amendments.”

“An end to the race to the bottom on refugee policy is overdue. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of refugees being used as political pawns.

“The bipartisan commitment to offshore detention is crumbling as the policy becomes increasingly  impossible to defend.

“Once the nasty partisan point scoring is taken out of refugee politics, we are confident that a workable solution can be found to treat refugees humanely on Australian soil and prevent deaths at sea. There is a better way.”

The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, Chair of the Taskforce, said from the Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane today:

“This is the first positive move we have seen in our national discourse about people seeking asylum in years. The time has come to break with the simplistic rhetoric and have a proper national conversation about how we meet the needs of people who are fleeing war and persecution.”

Media enquiries and comment:

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

By | November 8th, 2016|Front - Hot Topics, Press Releases|