Australian Refugee Action Network National Conference recap

Representatives from many community groups who are advocating and working on behalf of refugees and people seeking asylum  came together for the 2nd Australian Refugee Action Network (ARAN) conference, held in Melbourne. Individuals came from almost every state and territory to share stories, encourage and learn from each other, and work towards prioritising key goals. Many of those present have been working in the space since the early 1990s when mandatory immigration detention was first introduced in Australia.

Various workshops were held on practical skills, such as lobbying and letter writing, creative activism and use of social media, and on organising your own group or network to support refugees and people seeking asylum.

The ARAN reflected on the state of things today in 2018, which over the past 26 years has seen Australia’s response to people seeking asylum and refugees become more and more punitive. There was great emphasis on the importance of maintaining a stand and ensuring that a voice was heard from the community that there is support for a humane and compassionate response to those in search of safety.

Glenn Jessop from the CAPSA team had the opportunity to present at the ‘activism through faith networks’ discussion on our efforts to coordinate a national week of prayer and action, and on bringing together a united Catholic voice. CAPSA regards the heart of the Gospel is God’s passionate love for each human being. Jesus expressed that love in his care for the ill, the poor, the stranger and for those disregarded by society. CAPSA will continue to engage hearts and minds and work in partnership with those within the Catholic church to amplify and coordinate a united Catholic response and see the CAPSA principles implemented in Australia.

People who come to Australia seeking asylum are among the most disregarded and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. Respect for their human dignity and health and wellbeing requires that they are properly fed, sheltered, secure, provided with appropriate educational opportunities, receive medical care and have their claims adjudicated fairly within a reasonable timeframe.

The ARAN conference was a great opportunity to gather together with individuals from many different backgrounds, beliefs, and situations and hear about the good work they have done and together imagine and plan a future for our country where our collective actions and Government are ethical and compassionate.