Rev Prof Andrew Dutney reflects on the 40th anniversary of the Uniting Church in Australia and the distinctive contribution it continues to make.
A fair go for refugees
Posted in News
Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan has condemned as "inflammatory" and "deplorable" recent comments about refugees and asylum seekers made by Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
Mr Dutton has described the 7,500 asylum seekers living in Australia as "fake refugees" and given them until 1 October to formally apply for protection or face deportation.
“The Minister is playing politics with people’s lives. It is incredibly cruel and unfair to expect these vulnerable people to undergo this process in a limited time frame with limited access to legal assistance," says Stuart.
“This arbitrary deadline will push already overwhelmed legal services to the limit, forcing many to apply without any legal representation or the support of an interpreter. Claims could be wrongly assessed if asylum seekers are forced through the process quickly.”
Asylum seekers need to be invited to apply for protection by the Department of Immigration, with many only being invited late last year. Applying for protection is an arduous process that involves submitting a 60-page document in English, which can take up to 10 hours to complete with legal assistance.The waiting list for this type of legal assistance has grown to up to a year, making this process even more difficult.
The Uniting Church in Australia's asylum seeker and refugee policy, "Shelter from the Storm", calls for protection claims to be processed in a fair and transparent manner.
“As Christians we are called to challenge unjust systems and care for those who are marginalised,” says Stuart.
“Asylum seekers should not be discriminated against based on how they arrived in Australia.
“Mr Dutton needs to be more careful of his language too. Demeaning and demonising asylum seekers is not appropriate from a Government Minister, particularly the one who has direct responsibility for the welfare of all immigrants.”
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Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan says the federal government’s decision to award $70 million in compensation to asylum seekers kept in offshore detention has once again shown what a moral failure the policy has been.