The Refugee Council of Australia invited input on its annual consultations on the future of Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program. Many St Vincent de Paul Society members have attended the Council’s various face-to-face consultations around Australia. We also welcome the opportunity to contribute this written submission on the questions raised in the Council’s discussion paper.

The Society thanks the Refugee Council of Australia for conducting these community consultations. We share the commitment to refugees and asylum seekers, as particularly vulnerable members of our global society, and we appreciate the chance to participate in this conversation.

Australia does much good for refugees, and the St Vincent de Paul Society is proud to partner with many NGOs and government organisations in this space. The Society has been very concerned about asylum seekers in Australia for some decades. The last few years have seen some increasingly cruel policies against people who come to Australia seeking help, many of which cause very real and documented suffering to human beings who have done absolutely nothing wrong. We see people living in Australia in abject poverty, who are not allowed to get jobs. We see people in detention centres, with increasingly severe mental illness. And we read stories about people who come here to our doorstep desperate for help, who we send back to the place they were fleeing, and who are subsequently tortured or killed by their own governments.

We will continue to advocate on principles of truth, compassion, dignity, and justice. We will continue to listen to the stories of refugees, and tell those stories. Through every means possible, we will continue to fight for a better future for refugees.