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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Comments (4)

  1. Bryan Hughes 24 may 2017, 16:31 Link
    Great to see the Uniting Church speaking out about the terrible treatment of people seeking asylum in Australia.
    1. Brian P. Ward 24 may 2017, 17:07 Link
      Minister Dutton is clearly setting up these men, women and children to fail — an appalling and shameful act. Unfortunately, the Opposition is totally compromised in this matter and it is left to the church to demand justice for these people who the Government would like forgotten as quickly as possible.
      1. Merawyn Percy 25 may 2017, 07:32 Link
        Thank you Stuart McMillan for saying in public and with such clarity the storm which rages inside me concerning the injustices to these refugees. The ones I know personally are wonderful people and amazing community builders. We need them.
        1. Liellie McLaughlin 28 may 2017, 20:44(Comment was edited) Link
          Thank you Stuart for speaking out against the divisive and belittling language used by a minister to exclude rather than build up. It is an incredible injustice to keep refugees on Temporary Protection Visas, on little pay and less hope, and then expect them to pay for the legal fees of application, at a time when avenues of assistance had been markedly cut by the government. My prayer is that the love demonstrated by ordinary good Australians will lessen the damage done to these vulnerable people. In courage let us all combine to live this love!