Pastoral Letter from the Moderator regarding support for asylum-seeker families at risk of offshore detention


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This week the High Court ruled that the government can now choose to forcibly deport asylum-seeker families, including 37 babies and 54 children to offshore detention.

As Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of Western Australia, I have written to the Prime Minister requesting that he act urgently to protect the children who are at risk of being deported to Nauru.

We have a longstanding concern that asylum-seekers and refugees are treated with compassion and in accordance with international law, as can be seen by resolutions made by our Synod over many years. We are aware that there are several families in WA who might be at risk of removal to Nauru as a result of this judgement.

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, of which the Uniting Church is a member, has asked its members to be part of an offer of sanctuary for asylum-seeker families.

The Synod of Western Australia was approached by the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, to nominate a local church that would be able to offer sanctuary to asylum-seeker families affected by the High Court decision. We have approached Wesley Uniting Church in the City, who over a long period of time, have supported and advocated for asylum-seekers and refugees. The Western Australian Synod is now working closely with Wesley Uniting Church in the City as a result of the Uniting Church in Australia’s request.

In a statement released by the Uniting Church in Australia, the President, Stuart McMillan called upon the Prime Minister: “Mr Turnbull, I appeal to your sense of compassion. Please step in and make the moral decision to protect these vulnerable people. Returning families and babies to Nauru and Manus may be legal, but it is not humane. To send people, especially children and Australian-born babies, back to the place that has caused them such harm would be an outrage against human dignity.”

Mr McMillan and Rev Elenie Poulos of UnitingJustice have encouraged Uniting Church members to contact their local Federal Members of Parliament to express their concerns.

I invite you all to assist wherever you can and I pray for courage and persistence for all of us, as we seek to faithfully discern and respond to God’s call to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8)

Yours in Christ,

Rev Steve Francis
Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Western Australia

Nb – If your congregation would also like to nominate as a place of sanctuary, please contact our Justice & Mission Officer at

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