For broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 8 Sep 2013.
With the federal election behind us, the pressure on government from asylum seekers is only set to increase. The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce has an excellent website with resources and ideas on how to help.
Why do asylum seekers come? People do not flee their homes, family, friends and community and undertake perilous, potentially deadly journeys without very good reason. Refugees are people forced to flee their homelands to escape persecution, including imprisonment and torture.
Once initial health, security and identity checks have been done, asylum seekers should be welcomed and offered appropriate care in the community while their protection claims are assessed.
Government policies should not deliberately expose people to harm. Punishing asylum seekers in order to send a message to people smugglers is abusive and unconscionable. Australia should focus on meeting international legal obligations, and developing a humanitarian response focused on protection needs.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.