March 2018 Bulletin
CATHOLIC ALLIANCE FOR PEOPLE SEEKING ASYLUM
MARCH 2018 BULLETIN
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.
2018 Walk For Justice For Refugees
The 2018 Walk For Justice For Refugees will be taking place throughout Australia on Palm Sunday (25 March). People from all faith groups, community organisations and the general public will join the Palm Sunday Walk, bringing banners and other messages of support in solidarity with refugees and people seeking asylum.
In recent years thousands of people, including those representing the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum, have attended the Walk. It’s important that we keep up this momentum to demonstrate the growing concern across the community about the harsh and punitive treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
The Australian Government continues to punish people who seek protection in Australia:
- Thousands of people have been held on Nauru and Manus Island during the last four years, and the deliberate cruelty of the offshore detention regime has resulted in 9 deaths, many people developing serious mental illness and untold misery and despair.
- The men marooned on Manus are fearful for their safety as Australia abandons them in Papua New Guinea.
- There are still over 100 children on Nauru, who with their families and other adults are being denied hope for the future.
- So far only around 240 people have been offered protection by America. It is now clear that refugees from countries covered by the USA travel ban including Iran, Somalia and Syria are not being offered places, and currently have no prospect other than remaining in indefinite limbo.
- The Australian Government has rejected the offer by New Zealand to provide protection for 150 people per year.
- There are concerns that many people will be pressured to return to unsafe places.
- Over 30,000 asylum seekers in our communities continue to be neglected. Those recognised as refugees have been given only temporary solutions, while many on Bridging visas face an uncertain future.
- Many families are separated by our harsh system, and most have no hope of ever being reunited with their loved ones.
We believe Australia is responsible for these people. Instead of spending millions to prolong their despair, Australia should immediately offer protection to those who are refugees (the majority), and to review the claims of those who do not have refugee status. The humane thing to do is to #BringThemHere and #LetThemStay.
Now more than ever Australians need to stand together for Justice for Refugees.
For details of a rally near you, see below:
- Sydney – https://www.facebook.com/events/163333934168474/
- Melbourne – https://www.facebook.com/events/142529579757550
- Newcastle – https://www.facebook.com/events/576928105985311/
- Perth – https://www.facebook.com/events/2038952673042985/
- Adelaide – https://www.facebook.com/events/207964319756021/
- Canberra – 1pm Garema Place
- Cairns – Cairns for Refugees is a local group whose mission is to promote a kinder approach to refugees, specifically to encourage the Australian government to desist with the current system of offshore detention and transfer all refugees currently detained indefinitely on Manus Island and Nauru to the Australian mainland. We are seeking support from local churches in spreading a message of compassion and we hope that you will hear some mention of the current plight of the detained refugees in your sermon on Palm Sunday. This is a day of national action for refugees because refugees, like Jesus was, are persecuted by the state. We intend to set up an information stall outside several churches in Cairns after the service on Palm Sunday. If we are outside your church on 25th March please approach us if you want more information and ways to help us in our campaign for the refugees detained on Manus and Nauru.
We hope to see you on the 25th March as we make a stand for justice, freedom and safety for refugees and people seeking asylum. We will not rest until freedom comes.
Open community forum: Fair go for refugees and people seeking asylum (Saturday 17 March 2018)
All community members are welcome to attend an ‘Open Community Forum: Fair go for refugees and people seeking asylum’ event, hosted by Amnesty International, Oxfam Australia, Mums 4 Refugees and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. See details on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/323281951498840/
The forum will discuss the current situation of refugees and people seeking asylum, and the role of community members to get on the #RightTrack, in a constructive and solutions-focused way. #RightTrack is a grassroots, community owned and led national movement resourced by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
Speakers and Q&A panellists:
- Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM (CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre)
- Mojgan Shamsalipoor (Young woman seeking safety in Australia) with Jessica Walker (Convenor of Teachers For Refugees and People Seeking Asylum)
- Pemba Amuri (Community Engagement and Organising Manager at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, refugee, Congolese pro-democracy activist)
- Sally Dodds (Queensland Convenor of Mums 4 Refugees)
Following the speeches, an open Q&A session will be held for community members to ask the expert panel any questions they may have. For more information on the event: please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Times: Arrive: 1.30pm for 2.00pm start; Finish: Forum finishes at 4.30pm, followed by refreshments until 5.30pm
Venue: Polding Theatre, Lourdes Hill College, 86 Hawthorne Rd, Hawthorne (Walk through Gate 1)
RSVP by 5.00pm Wednesday 14 March for catering purposes via one of the following:
Refugee Alternatives 2018 conference
Refugee Alternatives 2018 brought together hundreds of people nationwide (including a representative from CAPSA) to create opportunities for collaboration and cooperation in order to tackle the upcoming year with a power in numbers and unity. Over two days of conversation, predominant themes emerged. Key take-aways included:
- Refugee self-representation was a key theme as the conference ‘walked the talk’ with 58% of the speakers having a refugee background.
- The importance of education for refugees emerged throughout the conference, in support of self-representation.
- The importance of connections between international, regional and domestic was emphasised, with specific attention paid to the power of involving local government in the refugee movement.
- The role that civil community and independent volunteers have in facilitating a robust movement
- Australia’s role in the region was another important topic of discussion leading to a collective conclusion that Australia must be a positive role model in the Asia-Pacific region; encouraging states within our region to seek durable solution for refugees.
- Some attention was directed to Canada, as Amir (a 4-year detainee of Manus Island) shared his experience with the Canadian sponsorship program, turning Australia’s shame into Canada’s gain.
- The outcome of the conference was developing a Program of Action, a shared vision for global refugee protection, showcasing the vital importance of partnership.
UNHCR releases zero draft of the Global Compact on Refugees
On 31 January 2018 UNHCR released the Zero Draft of the Global Compact on Refugees. This Compact represents a long-awaited re-assessment of the ways in which States can fairly share their responsibilities to refugees. The Compact addresses:
- the importance of cooperation between States in ensuring that refugees are protected and long-term solutions achieved
- the increasingly urgent issue of how refugees should be treated prior to a decision being made on their status, and how to facilitate greater investment and involvement of different stakeholders in responding to mass movements of people in the future.
For more information see here