Open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Home Affairs Mr Peter Dutton

Sr Maureen Elliott FMM has been involved in various countries including Australia, Papua New Guinea, Kenya and Ethiopia, serving for more than 50 years in the areas of education, pastoral care, integral human development, administration and finances.  She recently sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, with copies so far to Bill Shorten, Richard Di Natale, Kerryn Phelps, Anthony Albanese.  

 She is a sister of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

‘Being women of different nations and cultures, we choose to live together in a fragmented world. We want to reveal the face of God’s love by being a humanizing presence among people who suffer and are on the margins. We commit ourselves, with others, to the care of creation and to the service of life, peace, justice and healing, where it is most needed’.


Mr Scott Morrison,

Mr Morrison, I heard you say on TV in order to ‘stop the boats’ the offshore detention of Asylum seekers must be punitive.Why are you persecuting already traumatised people?

And yet all these people have done is to exercise their internationally recognised right to seek asylum! 

Australia has refused to receive them, and has the ‘right’ to do this.  But if it has been decided that they won’t be allowed to settle in Australia, surely it is incredible that we then think we have the right to pay other countries to detain them for years!  They are not Australians and they are not in Australia, and yet we have arranged to have them held for years in detention…. taking from them precious years with their loved ones and communities, years when they could have been productive, acquired skills, learned a trade or studied for a profession, and be in a position to help those left behind (often in destitution) as they had hoped.  And all this because you say it is essential for the implementation of Australia’s “Operation Sovereign Borders”.

I have spent many years overseas standing by people who are struggling to care for the basic needs of their families and communities.  People who are seeking asylum are driven to become refugees through traumatic situations.  And yet you have openly insisted that punitive detention of these vulnerable people is essential to secure our borders!  You frequently and emphatically say that this is what Australians want.  And yet very, very many of us find any policy that relies on punishing innocent people horrendous, abhorrent, unconscionable and reprehensible.

These people may not be great at playing football, and they have not been trapped in a cave, but their lives are just as precious…  just as precious as yours and mine!  Their only mistake has been to hope that Australia would give them asylum.  So now that we have successfully secured our borders over the past five years at the cost of their livelihood, their hopes, their physical and mental health, and even some lives, surely we have an obligation to attend to their health and well-being to the best of our ability?  After all, with the checks, balances and opportunities we have in place, they are no threat to the people of this land, unlike the first ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’ in 1788 that we commemorate each 26th January.

Sr Maureen Elliott FMM

If you are interested in contacting key members of parliament regarding SRSS, there is an updated list of key individuals with positions relating to people seeking asylum and refugees here.