Bring compassion and respect back into the asylum seeker and refugee debate
The St Vincent de Paul Society is calling for a new asylum seeker and refugee debate in Australia that is more compassionate and adheres to international law.
The Society’s National Council this week adopted a new policy framework that is based on our shared humanity with asylum seekers and refugees, underpinned by the principles of international cooperation, onshore resettlement and proper support to help people after they arrive.
This policy comes in the wake of international condemnation of Australia’s asylum seeker and refugee policy at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, and calls from hundreds of prominent Australians to close offshore detention centres.
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said:
“We call on our political leaders to accept Australia’s obligations under international law to protect the rights of all people, especially those who are fleeing war and persecution and who need our help.
“The Society continues to oppose mandatory detention and offshore processing of asylum seekers and calls for the timely processing of applications and immediate removal of children, women and men from detention centres.
“A number of countries have raised significant issues with Australia’s asylum seeker and refugee policy, including some of our closest allies, such as the United States and Britain.
“This criticism of Australia’s policies should be a wake-up call for the government to start to put in place a more humane and fair policy,” said Dr Falzon.
St Vincent de Paul Society NSW President, Ray Reynolds said:
“The Society’s policy statement is based on our key values of compassion, respect, empathy and advocacy.
“We know that Australians are a generous and fair people, and this spirit needs to extend to treatment of refugees and asylum seekers,” said Mr Reynolds.
Main points from The Society’s Policy and Position Statement for People Seeking Asylum.
- Australia’s response to the needs of people seeking asylum should be generous and flexible. Policies imposing sanctions on people seeking asylum in order to deter others from coming here are an unjustifiable breach of human rights.
- The Society encourages the Government to work harder with other nations to protect vulnerable people, and to support more effectively the efforts of the countries to which people first flee when they leave their own lands.
- Australia must adhere to international treaties and international law designedto protect people fleeing from danger.
- The Society recognises that a regional response to coping with the flow of people seeking asylum could reduce the need for them to risk the hazardous open sea voyage to Australia. The Society supports efforts to establish such responses in transit countries, but only if those states can provide legal protection to people seeking asylum, humane living conditions and work rights.
- The Society believes in equal treatment of all people seeking asylum, irrespective of their mode of arrival or at which part of Australian territory they arrived.
- The Society believes that it is always unjustifiable to deport people to any place where they face a dangerous situation or persecution.
- The Society continues to oppose all mandatory detention and offshore processing of asylum seekers, and calls for the timely processing of applications and immediate removal of children, women and men from detention centres.
- The Society advocates for the appointment of an independent guardian for unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Australia. Children seeking asylum in Australia and their families must also receive priority in release from detention.
Read more at www.vinnies.org.au/asylumseekerpolicy
Evan Langdon (National Council) – 0400 845 482 firstname.lastname@example.org
Yolanda Said (Vinnies NSW) – 0417 446 430 Yolanda.Saiz@vinnies.org.au