Refugees & Asylum Seekers

There is no question about the Christian response to asylum seekers and refugees. The Church is called to be a place of welcome. As faithful disciples we are to provide care and comfort to those who come to this land as strangers, seeking safety.

The Uniting Church advocates for a just response to the needs of refugees that recognises Australia's responsibilities as a wealthy global citizen, upholds the human rights and safety of all people, and is based on just and humane treatment, including non-discriminatory practices and accountable transparent processes.

As Christians we are called to love our neighbours, to welcome strangers, and to offer refuge to those in need. The Uniting Church in South Australia stands in solidarity with those who are marginalised and in exile and commits to assisting with assimilation, advocating for those in detention and calling for urgent policy changes and compassion by all Australians.

2022 Synod Resolution on Justice for Asylum Seekers and Refugees 

S22.11 It was AGREED (by consensus) that the Synod of SA resolve to:

  1. ENDORSE the document Priorities for Change authored by Justice for Refugees SA and commend it to members, congregations, associated organisations and agencies in the Synod of SA in their advocacy for Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
  1. REQUEST the Moderator write to representatives of the Commonwealth Government to call on the government to:
    1. Replace Temporary Protection Visas and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV) visas with permanent visas;
    2. Give the same access to tertiary education for refugees and people seeking asylum as is given to Australian citizens;
    3. Immediately increase Australia’s humanitarian, family reunion and refugee intake to 20,000 with annual increases until 35,0000, as well as increasing the intake from Afghanistan to 25,000 excluding the current 449 visa holders here in Australia;
    4. Give urgent priority to processing the immediate family cases of boat arrivals
    5. End indefinite offshore processing and instead processes all people seeking asylum onshore fairly and quickly in line with its responsibilities under the Refugee Convention.
  1. REQUEST the Moderator WRITE to, the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs to inform them of this resolution.
  1. COMMIT itself and call on members, congregations, organisations associated with the UCA, and agencies of the Synod to:
    1. Continue to provide practical care and support to asylum seekers and refugees in the community and in detention centres as appropriate and where possible;
    2. Continue to advocate for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees using ‘Priorities for Change’ and ‘A Welcoming, Compassionate and Diverse Nation’ in the Uniting Church Assembly statement Our Vision for a Just Australia.
    3. Engage and communicate with their local federal members to inform them of the Uniting Church’s vision for a Just Australia and to remind them that the Uniting Church seeks a compassionate nation, where every person who seeks refuge here is treated fairly and made to feel welcome and safe –regardless of their country of origin or mode of arrival.

Theological reflection:

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matthew 25:35).

For more information about the biblical basis of the Uniting Church’s response to refugees and people seeking asylum>

Uniting Church Statements and Resolutions:

Joint Letter from the Moderator and SA Refugee and People Seeking Asylum Advocacy and Research Network to Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs (Released on 10th June 2022)

Joint Letter from the Moderator and SA Refugee and People Seeking Asylum Advocacy and Research Network to SA Senators and MPs (Released on 10th June 2022)

Moderator’s statement on the Government’s eight-year anniversary of offshore detention of refugees and asylum seekers (Released on 13th July, 2021)

Joint Letter from the Moderator and Synod Refugee Advocacy Group to all members of UCA SA (Released on 7th May 2020)