Overwhelming whole-of-community support to let asylum seekers stay

The St Vincent de Paul Society warmly welcomes statements of support by Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart and other welfare groups, health agencies, politicians and community leaders across the country to keep the 267 asylum seekers in Australia.

Last week the St Vincent de Paul Society joined with international aid and community sector agencies to lend support to ensure these asylum seekers are cared for in the community rather than being condemned to offshore incarceration in Nauru.

St Vincent de Paul Society National President Graham West said:

“The St Vincent de Paul Society welcomes the statement of support for these asylum seekers by Archbishop Denis Hart. We stand with, and will work with, the Catholic Church and with other welfare and health agencies in offering to do whatever we can to help these vulnerable people.”

St Vincent de Paul Society Victorian State President Michael Liddy said:

“Archbishop Hart’s statement of support for Premier Andrew’s position shows that the Victorian Catholic community want to work with government not only let these refugees stay, but to also give them the tools they need to make a new start in life in Victoria.

“There are already tangible offers of support from St Vincent’s Health (SVHA) and Catholic Care who are working to develop a new support services for refugees.

“We are also deeply committed to helping and welcoming these people with open arms.”

“It is heartening to see the community come together to say that Australia welcomes refugees,” said Mr Liddy

The St Vincent de Paul Society’s Policy and Position Statement for People Seeking Asylum includes:

  • 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 designed to 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

Media Contact:

National - Belinda Cranston 0400 845 492, media@svdp.org.au

Victoria – Haley Price 0423 139 163, haley.price@svdp-vic.org.au