CAPSA 2018 Christmas Bulletin
The end of 2018 is almost here! Bishop Vincent Long reminds us:
“As millions of people in Australia and all over the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the exiled Holy Family of Nazareth, fleeing into Egypt, is the archetype of every refugee family.”
Australia continues to implement a fractured and deeply harmful system on those who seek protection and safety both on and offshore. Many in the Catholic community have worked to change both the current policy situation, as well as the negative perceptions prevalent within the Australian community towards those who seek asylum. We have publicly protested, written letters, met with MPs, made policy submissions and spoken to colleagues. We have spoken to our Priests, Bishops and Religious of our concerns, and they have in turn spoken out for a system and community that is fair, humane and concerned with the common good and human dignity of all. Encouragingly, we have seen a growing positive public response to this ongoing work.
CAPSA will continue to encourage and amplify the Catholic communities’ efforts to advocate and provide services to people seeking asylum and refugees. Together We CAN change hearts and minds to compassion and effectively advocate for policy changes in line with our principles.
Thank you for your ongoing support and work in this often difficult area. We hope you have a peaceful Christmas, and look forward to continuing to work together as an Alliance in the new year.
The CAPSA teamWe 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.
CAPSA Christmas Morning Tea
We had a fantastic gathering with various CAPSA supporters and representatives to round out the year: thanks to all of you who came (and also those who weren’t able to join us in person), for all your hard work and support. Here’s to a strong, coordinated, across-the-age-spectrum and high impact Alliance for 2019!
2018 ALP National Conference Update
CAPSA sent a letter to all National Secretaries of ALP affiliated unions before the conference asking for humane and compassionate policies for those who seek asylum and refugees. Many of you also sent a similar letter — thank you! Here is a summary of ALP policies that were voted in at their National Conference:
- Means tested access for people seeking asylum to funded migration assistance and appropriate social services including income, crisis housing, health care, mental health care, community education and English as a second language support during the assessment of the claim for protection. The current government has cut status resolution support services (SRSS) from more than 800 people with an estimated 7000 more to be affected in 2019. The SRSS payment is provided to asylum seekers living in the Australian community while the government processes their claim for protection. It provides a living allowance – usually 89% of Newstart allowance, casework support, and access to torture and trauma counselling.
- An increase in the community sponsored refugee program intake to 5000 places per year which is over and above the humanitarian intake, which will be raised to 27,000. Typically, Australia offers about 13,750 offshore and onshore places combined, although in some years the intake is increased due to special circumstances.
- Increased UNHCR funding to $500 million. In 2016-17, Australia provided $25 million in core funding to UNHCR.
- A strong commitment to family reunions. Current policies make it very challenging, if not impossible, for some refugees to be reunited with their close family.
- Abolition of the ‘fast track’ assessment process. Those processed in the ‘fast track’ assessment process stream (boat arrivals) don’t have access to the full range of appeal processes available to those who arrived by plane.
- Acceptance of New Zealand’s offer to resettle refugees immediately.
- The abolition of all temporary protection visas.
- Establish an Independent Health Panel to improve medical transfer processes.
News: Catholic Community Working Together
Jesuit Refugee Service (Australia) recently opened a new center in Westmead, Sydney. With the support of the Marist Brothers and The Diocese of Parramatta, the building has been made available for JRS Australia’s use. The site has a garden and a commercial kitchen which will allow both expansion and the continued delivery of key support services for people seeking asylum and refugees in the Sydney area. This is a great example of the Catholic community working together to support people seeking asylum! Read more here
79% — the percentage of people seeking asylum who are at risk of homelessness or destitution if they lose Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) assistance, according to a survey by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA).
$43 million — the profit Australian firm Canstruct International reportedly made last financial year for running the immigration detention centre on Nauru.
70+ — as of October 2018, over 70 people were in Port Moresby for medical treatment, after being transferred from Manus Island, according to a new report, Until When?, by RCOA and Amnesty International. The report states that it can take between four to six monthsto transfer people for medical treatment, with some people’s treatment complicated by the delays.
27,931 — total number of claims for protection in 2017-18 in Australia.
Illustration: ABC News/Jarrod Fankhauser
The annual Refugee Alternatives conference will occur 19 – 20 February in Adelaide this year. More information here
If you have any events, training, or workshops coming up that you think other CAPSA members and supporters would be interested in, please email them through to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommended Reading & Viewing
- Statement on Refugees and Asylum-Seekers from ACBC President Archbishop Mark Coleridge
- Dutch church holds non-stop service for nearly 800 hours to prevent refugee deportation
- ‘Nothing to lose’: PM refusal to sign UN migration compact criticised
- Until when: The forgotten men of Manus Island (Report)
- An unnecessary penalty: Economic impacts of changes to the Status Resolution Support Services (Report)