A call to action: write to your MP to end the crisis of offshore processing
More than 1,000 asylum seekers and refugees remained stranded on Manus Island and Nauru. For more than four years, they have endured ongoing uncertainty, psychological suffering, and conditions that are inhumane and degrading. Recent policy developments have heightened fears among those held offshore and exposed them to a greater risk of violence and harm. We hold grave concerns about further critical incidents and loss of life following a spate of violent attacks - concerns which have been confirmed by disturbing accounts from Vincentians who have recently visited Manus and witnessed first-hand the deteriorating conditions.
Despite the recent announcement that 50 refugees from Manus and Nauru will be resettled in the US, the future of the majority of those who remain stranded offshore is unclear, and they face immediate and ongoing risks to their health and safety.
As the situation on the ground deteriorates, there is a real threat of further serious harm. We are urging the Australian Government to act urgently to avert any further tragedies and to provide a durable and safe solution for resettling asylum seekers and refugees from Manus and Nauru.
Why write to your Federal Member of Parliament (MP)?
We are encouraging our members to write to their Federal MP to convey their concerns about this issue. Letters are a simple and effective way to engage MPs.
The Society has a long history of supporting migrants and refugees, and we have consistently called for a more compassionate asylum seeker policy. Although our public advocacy at the national level is important, raising issues as a ‘grassroots’ constituent can also have a powerful impact. While the political debate on asylum seekers and refugees may seem deeply polarised and entrenched, MPs tend to pay close attention to mail from their constituents. This point has been emphasised to us by Federal Parliamentarians from both sides of politics who support a more humane and just asylum seeker policy.
How to write to your MP
1. Find the name and contact details of your local MP
You can find your MP and their contact details on the Parliamentary website at http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members. A consolidated list of MPs and their postal address can also be found here (or click here for a pdf version of this list).
2. Download the letter template
To help you write to your MP, we have a prepared a letter template which you can access by clicking here.
Don’t forget to include your name and contact details, so that your MP can respond to your letter. You may also like to add a few sentences to personalise the letter and emphasise why Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers is an issue of importance to you.
There are certain protocols on how to address your MP when writing to them. For details, see these Guidelines for Contacting Senators and Members.
3. Send the letter to your MP, and let us know if you get a response!
Although you can communicate with your MP via email, letters that are printed and sent via the post tend to have more impact and are more likely to receive a personalised response. The National Council office would welcome any feedback on responses or outcomes from your letter! Please send any comments or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information or assistance
If you have any questions or require additional information, you can contact Corinne Dobson at the National Office on (02) 6202 1200, or via email at email@example.com. We would also welcome any feedback or information about responses you get from your MP.
Further information about the Society’s policy on asylum seekers and refugees, and our ongoing advocacy on this issue, can be found at https://www.vinnies.org.au/page/Our_Impact/Asylum_Seekers_Migrants_Refugees/.
You can also view our recent media releases on this topic at the links below:
- Manus Island: St Vincent de Paul Society says asylum seekers must be brought to Australia now, May 16, 2017
- Violence and forced deportations threaten the safety of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island, 19 April 2017
- St Vincent de Paul Society applauds parliamentary motion to resettle refugees from Manus and Nauru, 24 August 2017