Press Releases

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.

 

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.

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|

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

Peter Stahel

Client Manager

T. 02 8280 9108   M. 0408 584 439   

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 | September 21st, 2016|Front - Hot Topics, Press Releases|

Press Release: #LetThemStay coalition’s response to Turnbull’s Pledge at Obama Summit

21 September 2016: Today’s announcement by the Australian government at the Obama Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis doesn’t address the future of around 2000 people currently languishing in offshore camps on Manus Island and Nauru said the Human Rights Law Centre, Getup and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb said that while the Australian government’s pledge to keep the planned 2018 increase in the refugee resettlement intake to 18,750 per year and offer $130 million in increased financial assistance is a step forward, “showing decency to one person seeking asylum doesn’t justify or require cruelty to another.”

“Right now there are 2000 innocent people in our care who are suffering. I’ve sat face to face with women who have been sexually assaulted on Nauru. I’ve seen a man in our care collapse unconscious after being beaten on Manus. I’ve spoken with families desperate to begin rebuilding their lives in safety but who still languish on a painful road to nowhere after three years. Last night’s announcement doesn’t end their suffering.”

Matthew Phillips, GetUp Human Rights Director, said the Australian government has been humiliated at an international summit to help people fleeing conflict by it’s cruel policy of indefinite detention.

“Today’s announcement is a bad attempt at a cover-up. No other country in the world has deliberately and illegally held children, women and men for years on tiny remote island camps. It’s shameful that the PM can’t seem to resolve that situation and is instead making promises about 2018.” said Mr Phillips.

Mr Webb added, “Deliberate cruelty to innocent people is fundamentally wrong. Maintaining the planned intake and signing a cheque doesn’t make it right.”

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, said there are safe, viable and humane alternatives.

“We should be working with the UN and countries in our region to develop safe and orderly pathways to protection for people who need to seek it,” said Ms Coleman.

HRLC, Getup and ACRT said that after three years of fear, violence and limbo, it’s time to bring the men, women and children languishing on Nauru and Manus back to Australia to begin rebuilding their lives, just like the other people we will now be welcoming.

Mr Webb said,“Ultimately, whatever the policy challenge, deliberate cruelty to innocent people is never the solution.”

 

By | September 21st, 2016|Press Releases, ~ Slot 3|

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 | August 18th, 2016|Alternative Policies, Front - Hot Topics, Press Releases|

Media Release: Catholic Orders from across Australia call for Amnesty for the people in detention camps saying #BringThemHere!

AUGUST 18 2016: Sisters from Catholic religious orders across Australia will today sign a statement calling on the Prime Minister to issue an amnesty for those suffering intolerable cruelty in Australia’s offshore detention camps, and back a call for a Summit on Solutions to take the politics out of refugee policy.

Sr Monica Cavanagh, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph, said that the celebration of 150 years of the life and work of Saint Mary Mackillop, being celebrated here in Sydney this week, motivated Catholic Orders to do what Sister Mary would have done, which is to “ask that the people seeking asylum on Manus Island and Nauru, be brought here to Australia”.

“In the context of the imminent closure of the Manus camp – announced yesterday by the PNG and Australian Government – the men on Manus must be granted this amnesty and brought to Australia, not to some other temporary or unsafe context”, Sr Monica said.

Speaking at Mary Mackillop Place in Sydney today, Sr Monica said “after people are brought here to safety, we fully support the call for a Summit on Solutions, so that the best alternatives can be thrashed out in a bipartisan way”.

“We are making a personal appeal to Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten: please put human dignity above politics by agreeing to work together.”

Also speaking at the celebrations for Saint Mary Mackillop today, Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, said that: “we don’t accept the argument that it’s impossible to bring people here for fear of the people smuggling trade re-starting.

“We can’t wait for more children to be abused in the offshore camps for alternatives to be put in place. That’s why Catholic Sisters from across Australia are calling for a one-off amnesty for people in the offshore centres-this is less than 2000 people!”

“Most of these people have already been found to be refugees. They have endured enough. Let’s empty the camps.”

“We also don’t accept that Australia has to turn people seeking asylum back to the countries from which they’ve fled, in order to have a sound policy framework.

“There are alternative solutions that are being ignored because of partisan debates. We need a Summit of Solution now to force our leaders to put safety above politics.

Photos available on request.

Media Inquiries and comment:

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

Peter Stahel (Essential Media) 0408 584 439

 

By | August 18th, 2016|Front - News, Press Releases|