19 September 2016

The St Vincent de Paul Society is urging the federal government to increase Australia’s annual intake of refugees to 30,000, as world leaders convene for two special summits on refugees in New York.

“Contrary to the government’s assertions, breaking people’s spirits in offshore processing facilities is not the unavoidable alternative to deaths at sea,” the Society’s National Council CEO Dr John Falzon said.

“The most urgent matter facing the Australian government is the fate of refugees and asylum seekers stuck in limbo on Nauru and Manus Island.

“We call on the Prime Minister to embrace a humane and respectful way forward for the vulnerable children and their families on Nauru, along with the more than 800 men on Manus Island, who have been living without hope for too long.”

Since 2013, the cost of Australia’s current policy of turn-backs and offshore detention has cost $9.6 billion.

“The boats haven’t stopped – they’ve just been turned away to other dangers,” Dr Falzon said.

Between 2012 and 2015, the number of people seeking asylum in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand rose by 36 per cent.

“In some instances, there are documented cases whereby Australia’s turn-back policy has resulted in asylum seekers being returned to serious harm, persecution and or death, in the countries from which they have fled," Dr Falzon added.

“There are a range of approaches to ensuring the safety and security of people seeking refuge across the globe, including greater regional cooperation rather than avoidance of our international obligations, but one thing is clear: Australia’s current approach is failing.”

MEDIA CONTACT: BELINDA CRANSTON 0400 845 492