Responses to Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Movers Catt, P.

The Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt moved, Bishop Philip Huggins seconded,

That, acknowledging the Federal Government’s constitutional authority to administer orderly immigration policy; recognising the moral complexities of the task; remembering the daily difficulties endured by defence force personnel; and accepting that ‘people trafficking’ is an insidious social evil:

this Synod nonetheless affirms the basic human right to seek asylum as expressed in the UN Convention, and affirms Australia’s past positive record of providing refuge and asylum;
urged by the compassion of God, the Synod therefore respectfully calls upon the Federal Government to honour Australia’s international obligations, and urges Government and Opposition to reconsider and revise some aspects of their current policy, including;
arbitrary treatment of people under the Migration Act (1958) depending on their mode of arrival, not upon their status as asylum seekers;
emotive use of the term ‘illegal’ to describe asylum seekers whose refugee status has yet to be determined;
continuing recourse to off-shore detention facilities;
continuing instances of immigration detention of women and children;
continuing instances of periods of detention greater than three months, which put detainees at clear risk of serious mental illness;
imbalance of fiscal priorities toward border patrol and detention services, and away from diplomacy, regional capacity building and international refugee foreign aid;
arbitrary and retrospective discrimination against family stream applicants who have received permanent visa, passed the relevant tests and paid the relevant fees, but who were maritime arrivals;
the suppression of information about maritime operations involving refugees;
the secrecy surrounding the operation of offshore detention centres;
risk of alienation, and barriers to integration, from lack of access to government services under limited visa conditions; and
the rapidly changing policy environment that often leaves asylum seekers and their advocates uncertain of how to proceed;
3. the Synod urges Government and Opposition to work with regional neighbours and the UNHCR to develop a compassionate and workable regional response to refugees and asylum seekers, also to enable quicker processing and acceptance of greater numbers of refugees located in UN refugee camps close to the countries of origin they have left and to develop immigration policies that are more just and compassionate, so that they can be remembered with pride by future generations of Australians, while appropriately protecting the current generation of Australians;
4. the Synod also recognises with gratitude the work of Anglican auspiced refugee agencies; existing refugee ministries of local churches; it encourages more local churches to engage in loving refugees with practical care and sharing Christ’s love, and commends study resources and work of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRIGHT –;
5. requests the Primate to advise the Prime Minister, Minister of Immigration and Border Protection, and the Leader of the Opposition of the contents of the motion.
2 July 2014

Resolution year: 2014
Resolution number: 55/14