An inspiring National Week of Prayer and Action 2019

The Catholic community united together in an inspiring week of solidarity with people seeking asylum, calling for change.

This year’s National Week of Prayer and Action was held during Refugee Week, between June 16th – 23rd June 2019, and many and varied groups and individuals from parishes, organisations and schools from all over Australia got involved.  It was inspiring to see so many come together to pray for and raise awareness about the current situation, and also take a public stand of protest and for compassionate policies that would protect and welcome people seeking asylum in our communities.

There is no doubt that huge numbers throughout the Catholic community are determined to care and welcome people seeking asylum while holding onto hope for a compassionate future.

Students hold a circle of silence at St Mary of the Angels during the National Week of Prayer and Action
A circle of silence at St Mary of the Angels

Students, parish members, advocates, support groups and individuals carried a strong message of humanity and solidarity for those seeking asylum. There were so many activities! These included public and private circles of silence to reflect together, forums with speakers to engage the audience and raise awareness, movie screenings, and both petition signing and letter writing sessions, addressed to federal MPs.

The Catholic community has called for change, actively expressing empathy, kindness and care for those who have fled their homes and are now seeking protection in Australia.

We are together keeping the pressure on the recently-elected Australian government, asking that every person seeking asylum be treated with respect and dignity.

In a broad sense, our advocacy focus remains ‘a fair process for people seeking asylum’.

Together we called for:

  • Processing people seeking asylum while they live in the community
  • Insuring claims for asylum need to be assessed promptly, transparently and with respect for human dignity
  • Providing access to avenues for fair appeal
  • Allocate adequate supports for people while they wait for their application to be processed to live a dignified life in the community.

Our aim here is to mobilise and maintain support in the Catholic and broader promote positive conversations in the broader community about how we treat refugees and people seeking asylum as a community. We will continue to welcome people seeking asylum and promote an acceptance of our diversity.

At CAPSA we believe that it has to start with ourselves and the way we journey with those who are seeking safety in Australia. We need to create encounters, develop friendships and make a difference in making the first step in caring for people seeking asylum.

We thank you again for your continuous support and energy to build a society where every human being is treated with respect and dignity.  Together we can highlight the importance of treating the stranger with empathy and allow our society to live in harmony.

A special thank you goes to:

  • Xavier Catholic College
  • St Michael’s Catholic Primary School Dunedoo
  • St Bernard’s College
  • Mater Christi College
  • Thomas Carr College, Tarneit
  • Our Holy Redeemer Primary School
  • Christian Brothers College
  • St John Fisher College
  • Saint David’s Parish School
  • St Mary of the Angels Secondary College, Nathalia
  • St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace
  • St Kevin’s College – Waterford
  • Antonio Catholic School
  • Presentation College Windsor
  • Parade College
  • St Joseph’s School Hindmarsh
  • Marymede Catholic College
  • Santa Maria College, Northcote
  • Santa Maria College, Northcote
  • St. Patrick’s College
  • St Columba’s College
  • Mt St Joseph Girls College
  • St Ignatius College, Victoria
  • St Joseph’s College Echuca
  • Jesuits Social Services
  • St Liborius parish
  • St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart
  • Marist Youth Ministry
  • Marist Association of St Marcellin Champagnat
  • St Thomas More Parish Social Justice Group
  • St Joseph’s Parish, Warrnambool
  • Catholic Mission
  • St Augustine’s Parish, Yass
  • Edmund Rice College
  • Richmond Catholic Parish
  • Society of St Vincent de Paul
  • Catholic Social Services Victoria
  • Catholic Social Services Australia
  • Xavier Social Justice Network
  • St Bernard’s Social Justice Network
  • Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project
  • St Vincent de Paul Society National Council
  • St Vincent de Paul Society Brunswick Conference
  • St Vincent’s Health Australia
  • Australian Catholic University
  • Caritas

Why we as a Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum continue to pray, protest and seek compassionate change:


  • Most of the people remaining offshore have been in limbo either in PNG or Nauru for six years now since the announcement that none would be resettled in Australia in July 2013
  • There are approximately 800 people left on Manus and Nauru
  • Over 1000 people (including children) have been transferred back to Australia due to medical reasons but both they do not have any definite future as the government has, thus far, refused to settle them in Australia
  • Over 580 people have been resettled in the United States, however many more, who have found to be refugees, were rejected with no valid explanation


  • There are many people seeking asylum while living within the community. Over 27,900 people applied for protection in the 2017–18 financial year slightly over 18,000 applied in the year before. Over the same period, 3,136 people were granted protection visas.
  • A total of 8,985 people from the ‘legacy caseload’ (boat arrivals from post August 2012 and pre-2014) remain without final decisions on their protection applications.
  • The ‘legacy caseload’ group can only apply for three- or five-year temporary-protection visas, with no avenue for bringing their family to be with them, or any solid knowledge of their future.
  • The wait time for processing claims is very long. Some people are waiting 3 or 4 years before their claims are assessed. This time of uncertainty creates insecurity and has been linked to reduction in mental health.  
  • Supports (basic income/case management) for those waiting for their applications in community have been cut and eligibility requirements changed. As of April 2017, 7,411 of the initial 13,299 people in early 2018 who were deemed vulnerable enough to receive basic support services are no longer supported. This has seen many forced into destitution.