Submission on the Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill

The Committee Secretary Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has invited the National Council of the Society to make a submission on the inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012 (Cth). The National Council is charged with representing the Society on a national basis, and in particular in the area of advocacy, and we welcome the opportunity to contribute this submission on the Bill.

The Society has a strong history of working with migrants and refugees. Catholic social teaching places a special onus on us to help people who have fled their homeland due to war, persecution, injustice or intolerance, and are now seeking asylum on our doorstep. To that end, the Society operates a migrant and refugee service in each State and Territory in Australia, which assists with everything from helping refugees lodge appeals against adverse decisions to providing living support for those newly in our community. We also coordinate a national Vincentian Refugee Network, and participate in and coordinate visits to immigration detention facilities, for example Villawood. Through these experiences, our volunteers have witnessed first-hand many of the daily struggles that asylum seekers and refugees in detention and in our community face, as well as hearing their stories of persecution in their homeland, and we consider it a privilege to assist, and stand in solidarity with, these brave and often remarkable people.