Asylum seeker policies need drastic change

The Uniting Church, Synod of Western Australia yesterday expressed deep sorrow at the human cost of the current deterrence regime on asylum seekers.

Members agreed that generally people do not flee their home, family, friends and community to undertake perilous journeys without very good reason.

Australia’s policies relating to asylum seekers should be driven by bipartisan commitments to a humanitarian response focused on protection needs, which meet Australia’s obligations as a signatory to the United Nations’ Refugee Convention and other international treaties and covenants.

The Uniting Church in Australia and the Synod of Western Australia have long expressed their concern at policies which do not protect the human rights of asylum seekers, especially while the political discourse concerning the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees has continued to deteriorate requiring urgent and drastic policy change.

The new leader of the Uniting Church in Australia, Western Australia, Moderator, Rev Steve Francis said that Australia should work productively in its region over the long-term to ensure that asylum seekers in neighbouring countries feel safe, see a future for themselves and are treated justly as their claims for refugee status are assessed.

“As one of the wealthiest, safest and most secure countries in the world, we should be able to find a humanitarian response to asylum seekers that is moral, ethical and just – it’s the right thing to do,” said Steve.

The Church will write to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Immigration and the Foreign Minister, enclosing a copy of the Australian Churches’ Refugee Task Group report, Protecting the Lonely Children.

 Church members from around Western Australia have come together this weekend, Saturday 13 to Sunday 14 September, to discuss issues of importance in the life of the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Western Australia, and the wider community at the 38th annual Synod and the 9th Annual General Meeting of the Presbytery of Western Australia.

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