CAPSA Christmas Bulletin
It would be easy at this time of year to feel hopeless for refugees and people seeking asylum. We have seen Medevac repealed, and many of those who were successfully medically evacuated to the mainland have been locked up in detention here in our own communities. We also continue to see the effects of the continued cuts to people’s safety net by government, which have exacerbated the desperate situations of many individuals and families.
But Christmas is a time for hope in the midst of this hopelessness. There are many people faithfully visiting those in immigration detention – week in, week out. There is the bundle of Christmas cards, full of concern and kindness, that came in the mail this week from year 10 and 11 students in Sydney to be delivered to those offshore. There is the woman I recently met who gives the spare room in her house rent free to someone who is seeking asylum.
Also we cannot forget the ongoing resilience and strength shown by refugees and people seeking asylum themselves. Against the incredible odds they endure here, they continue to hope to flourish in a world which seeks to exclude them. This is cause for hope, and also a call to keep encouraging each other to work towards a country of compassion, and to look closely at how we and our communities continue to respond to need – be it advocacy, material support, prayer or friendship.
The CAPSA team
We believe that together WE CAN make a difference, starting with small acts of kindness and hospitality and becoming a collective voice demanding more compassionate asylum seeker policies.
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A personal note from CAPSA’s National Coordinator
This week is my final week working as CAPSA’s national coordinator. Over the past couple of years it has been both invigorating and inspiring to meet and work alongside many of you. CAPSA is a collation of the efforts of individuals, groups and organisations across the Catholic community in Australia moving for compassionate change. It is the quiet work, often by individuals and small groups, and often without recognition or thanks, that I have found truly inspiring during the past couple of years.
I want to thank the team at Jesuit Social Services for the incredible support for myself and CAPSA and all of our work, the CAPSA Advisory Group for their wisdom and generous use of their networks and Jesuit Refugee Service (Australia) for the expertise they have contributed after taking on a co-convening role of CAPSA. I will continue on as a part of this alliance, working for change alongside you all in both a personal and professional capacity, but no longer in this coordinating role. I am moving to take the role of Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria, who as a peak body – along with many of its member agencies, has a great tradition of both providing services and engaging in advocacy for and with people seeking asylum.
Keep up your fantastic work, and if I can assist, be in touch. Thanks for being a Catholic alliance for people seeking asylum.
PNG Catholic delegation update
There has been much activity from the small group of Catholic leaders who visited PNG to speak with people seeking asylum and refugees, and meet with church and civil society leaders. After the trip public statements were made by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia
In the last week of November members of the delegation met in person with politicians in Canberra, and a number of letters have also been sent detailing the group’s concerns. Reflections and articles were published about the trip. A public forum in Sydney and a breakfast discussion in Melbourne were held. We urge all CAPSA member/supporters to write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison regarding the situation and to urge for humanitarian solutions for all located in PNG and Nauru to be found.
Published reflections from the trip:
Related articles quoting members of the trip:
- Risking life in PNG limbo
- Conditions in Australian-funded PNG immigration centre ‘worse than prison’, human rights groups say
- More help urged for West Papuans in exile
- Repeal of Medevac considered ‘barbaric’ by Catholic leaders
CAPSA Christmas Statement
You can read the 2019 CAPSA Christmas statement here. Let’s keep working together for a hope-filled and compassionate 2020.
– as of 3rd December, 2019
- 24,566 – Total number of onshore protection visa (PV) applications lodged in 2018-2019, which is a decrease from 2017-2018 when there were 27,931 applications lodged.
- 208 left on Papua New Guinea
- 258 left on Nauru
- 184 medically evacuated due to the (now repealed) Medevac legislation