For Those Who've Come Across the Seas - Workshop Results

Post date: Sep 11, 2015 9:37:50 PM

The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2015–16 challenges Australians to think again about our national response to asylum seekers, especially those who come to Australia by sea. It invites us to recognise the desperation that has driven these people to seek refuge far from their homes.

The Statement’s title is For Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas: Justice for refugees and asylum seekers. The title, taken from the words of our National Anthem, is intended to remind all Australians of how this nation has aspired to be a place of welcome and inclusion.

In this Statement, the Bishops address the divisive national debate over asylum seekers, especially those who arrive by boat. They confront Australia’s current deterrence-based response and remind us of the needs of the nearly 60 million people who are displaced around the world.

The Statement takes its inspiration from the actions and words of Pope Francis on his 2013 visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he met the survivors of a refugee tragedy and mourned for those who had died. It begins and ends with the Pope’s own words and is strongly based on the Scriptures and Catholic teaching.

The Bishops’ document traces the experiences of asylum seekers from their flight from persecution and danger, through their perilous journeys, to their experience in Australia of indefinite detention, deprivation and insecurity. It asks why both sides of Australian politics have felt the need to introduce such cruel and self-defeating policies as offshore processing and indefinite detention.

This Social Justice Sunday we are invited to reflect on the call of Jesus to welcome those in most need and to give comfort to those who come to us in flight from fear and suffering.


    • TAKE IN AND TAKE ON - In response to the Government's decision to take in Syrian refugees, every faith community in Australia could offer to TAKE IN a refugee or refugee family and TAKE ON the responsibility of ensuring that they are settled into the community creating a welcoming atmosphere and support network that will make a smooth integration into our society. There are some 1,350 Catholic Parishes in Australia and probably similar numbers in other denominations. Every member of the Parish or Community could contribute $1 per week toward supporting the new arrivals while they get settled.

  • STREAMLINE - The outcomes of migrant and refugee applications appear to defy common sense and seem to be random and capricious. While acknowledging that there are historical reasons that the present system has developed, the system needs to be revamped and refreshed to streamline the process and ensure that Australia gets the benefits of accepting new arrivals at the earliest possible time.

  • INTEGRATE - Ensure that immigration processes are orderly and properly integrate people into the community with adequate support mechanisms. An ongoing development of the TAKE IN AND TAKE ON approach would make all communities responsible for the successful integration of new arrivals rather than leave this just to employed officials of the Government.

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