“The members of the St Vincent de Paul Society across Australia urge both the Federal Government and the Opposition in the strongest terms to abandon their punitive treatment of people who seek refuge in our country,” said Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon.
“We have the capacity as a nation to welcome and care for the people who come here after having experienced de-humanising conditions in their country of origin. They have a right to seek asylum in our midst. We, in turn, have an obligation to ensure that they are not subjected to de-humanising conditions in the country they have come to.
“They come from a place of despair. Let us work together to make sure that they have come to a place of hope.
“The Society continues to call for an end to mandatory detention, especially the detention of children.”
St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Anthony Thornton said that National Refugee Week was also a chance to recognise the persistent efforts of refugee advocates.
“The St Vincent de Paul Society”, he said, “has always taken a strong stand on the side of those who have come to our shores as refugees, especially in periods of our history that have been marked by hostility and racism towards our brothers and sisters in need.
“I am proud of the efforts of our members in their work of practical compassion and their commitment to social justice.
“We call on all people of good will to embrace the theme of Refugee Week: Restoring Hope.”
Refugee Week 2012 is being celebrated from Sunday 17 June to Saturday 23 June and coincides with World Refugee Day on June 20.