News

Bishops Calls for Compassion Following High Court Decision

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
4 Feb 2016

Bishops want asylum seekers dealt with compassionately

Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Refugees, Bishop Vincent Long ofm, has called on the Federal Government to act with compassion for those seeking asylum in Australia - especially babies and children.

This follows a High Court ruling, by a 6-1 majority, that Australia's offshore detention centres at Nauru and Manus Island is lawful, clearing the way for the return of approximately 220 asylum seekers to Nauru as well as 37 babies born in Australia.

"Following the High Court decision, the Australian Government's response to people seeking asylum, including babies born in Australia and their parents, should focus on protecting them from harm and respecting their human dignity," said Bishop Long, a former refugee himself.

"I urge the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton to show compassion and mercy towards these families and not act in a way that will cause even more harm than has been done already."

"The Catholic Church is prepared to collaborate with other community organisations to provide support for asylum seekers."

Government has not said when the asylum seekers will be returned to Nauru and Manus Island

"I urge the Australian Government to ensure that no child is subject to an unsafe and harmful environment and that no-one is returned to where they may face physical, psychological and sexual violence and harm."

"The Catholic Church opposes mandatory detention and offshore detention because these policy responses do not respect the dignity of people seeking our help.

"Governments have a responsibility to manage migration flows, but the Australian Government's current approach is harsh and should change."

The illegal arrivals who were sent from Nauru to Australia for medical treatment, will be returned there once doctors have deemed them healthy enough to be sent back.

Disappointed refugee advocates said while the government policy had proven to be legal, it was morally wrong to send those seeking asylum to Nauru.