Front – Hot Topics

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 | 2018-01-04T16:13:39+00:00 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 | 2018-01-04T16:13:40+00:00 November 8th, 2016|Front - Hot Topics, Press Releases|

From Sight Magazine: ACRT warns of “fear, uncertainty and trauma”.

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…

Media Release: Turnbull Pledge to Obama summit is truly woeful – ACRT

21 September 2016:  The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) is highly disappointed with the much anticipated pledge that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took to the Obama Summit. 

Speaking from Thailand today, Executive Officer Ms Misha Coleman, said: “There had been a great deal of anticipation here in Bangkok yesterday amongst the hundreds of refugee organisations I’m here working with. This morning however, there is clearly nothing to celebrate”.

Ms Coleman said: “As demonstrated by figures from AHRC, Australia’s aid to the major countries of refugee origin and asylum in the Asia-Pacific region has been slashed. Additionally, since 2012/2012, the government’s overall aid budget has been slashed by $1.22 billion. So while of course the pledge today of $130 million is welcomed, it does little to redress the cuts that have made over recent years”.

 graph

Source: AHRC, Pathways to protection: a human rights-based response to the flight of asylum seekers by sea, 2016, p.58.

She said “the additional announcement that the government would not cut its commitment to provide 18,750 refugee resettlement places, pales in comparison to the new pledges that other countries made at the Summit”.

 Acting Chair of the Taskforce, Rev’d Mark Riessen, said that “we had hoped that Mr Turnbull would use the world stage in New York to announce an end to the hell that people are enduring in Nauru and in Manus Province, and would bring them here. Despite a series of highly credible reports being released over recent weeks, which outline alternatives and other options for the Government to take, unfortunately  the cruel attempt to cover up Government-sanctioned abuse  just continues.”

Media contact: Misha Coleman 0428 399 739

By | 2018-01-04T16:13:40+00:00 September 21st, 2016|Front - Hot Topics, Press Releases|

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|

ABC NewsRadio: ‘So many other people at risk’ in detention on Nauru, says Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce

A 21-year-old refugee has set herself on fire on Nauru. ‘So many other people at risk’ in detention on Nauru, says Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, after second refugee sets themself on fire in a week. Download audio

By | 2018-01-04T16:13:43+00:00 May 3rd, 2016|Front - Hot Topics, TV and Radio|

The Moral Compass: should Australian churches be offering sanctuary to asylum seekers?

In open defiance of the government, church leaders around the country are invoking the historical concept of sanctuary by opening their doors to asylum seekers at risk of being returned to Nauru. Do such moral and religious precepts have a place in the control of our borders or is such well intentioned compassion misplaced? Watch this episode from April 10, 2016.

By | 2016-04-14T11:54:18+00:00 April 14th, 2016|Front - Hot Topics, Sanctuary|

From SBS: Hundreds attend ‘sanctuary’ training sessions to protect asylum seekers

Hundreds of people have taken part in training sessions across the country to help protect asylum seekers looking for ‘sanctuary’ in churches in defiance of the federal government’s attempt to deport 267 asylum seekers to offshore detention. By Lydia Feng. Read the full story at SBS News.

By | 2016-03-18T11:32:28+00:00 March 18th, 2016|Front - Campaigns, Front - Hot Topics, Latest News, Sanctuary|

Churches pray this is the beginning of the end for offshore detention

Media Release 21 February 2016

Churches pray this is the beginning of the end for offshore detention

The Australian Church’s Refugee Taskforce and 80 sanctuary churches across Australia applaud the community effort that has resulted in baby Asha and her family being kept safe here in Australia.

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce has welcomed the government’s decision to show compassion after an intensive campaign by a wide range of social groups including churches.

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Taskforce’s and National coordinator of the Church Sanctuary Movement said that there is one simple reason that this little girl is now going to live in a home in the community – and that’s the people who stood up and demanded better treatment of her – and who refused to allow her to be deported to Nauru.

“Churches have played a critical role in this social movement. We are incredibly proud that churches from numerous denominations and faiths led resistance to un-Christian and unconscionable treatment of people in the offshore detention camps”.

“We continue to stand resolute to offer protection and sanctuary to the 267 vulnerable people who require confidence and certainty in their lives.

“Churches provided offers of sanctuary. These offers stand.

“Today shows the power we have if we stand together in peaceful non violent action. Churches have a proud tradition in this role and we are proud of our role in today’s historic outcome.

“We’re not done yet either. This is the start of a movement in Australia that is determined to see vulnerable people treated with compassion.

Media Contact: Amy Gordon 0410 631 404