A safe home for all refugees
By Rob Floyd, Assembly Associate General Secretary and Chairperson of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
What’s in a number? Sometimes numbers are needed to fully understand how troubling a situation can be. This is especially true for the numbers surrounding Australia’s offshore processing regime.
Remember, each number is a real person just like you and I. Like you and I they seek a life without fear. They seek safety, freedom and the opportunity to start life again.
From 13 August 2012, Australia has been sending people who came by boat to Australia seeking asylum to Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) under a policy of offshore processing. Since then, a total of 4183 people have been sent to these destinations.
To further entrench the policy as a deterrent, since 19 July 2013, the Australian Government’s policy has been that none of these people will ever be resettled in Australia, even if they are recognised as refugees.
Since this decision was made, 3127 have been sent to Nauru and PNG.
About 950 of this number have returned to their country of origin and a similar number have been resettled in the US or another country.
Almost eight years later, staggeringly, 1428 remain in our offshore detention regime. Of this group, only 425 have a possible durable solution for resettlement, mostly in the US or Canada. Our Government continues to resist the offer of New Zealand to resettle some of these refugees. That leaves over one thousand people who have no durable solution to their circumstances.
Of this number, 130 remain in PNG, 109 are on Nauru and around 1200 are in detention in Australia. Some of this group are in locked detention, others are in community detention and others, including people recently released from hotel detention in Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin are in the community on final departure bridging visas. This last group is given virtually no support, expected after eight years in detention to be able to find work and look after themselves in this post-COVID world, until they can be deported or another resettlement solution can be found.
We know the mental health implications of long-term detention, the Royal Australian College of Physicians have been speaking about this for years. See here.
Our Government must do better! We must resolve the situation facing these people.
The Assembly of the UCA is part of the Time For A Home Campaign, a sector wide campaign seeking the release from detention and permanent resettlement solutions for these people.
I encourage you to join the campaign, be vocal in your advocacy and join in with thousands of others seeking to bring about justice, dignity and a fair go for those who remain trapped in our Government’s unjust system.
For those in SA, you may like to support the Adelaide Vigil for Manus and Nauru and others planning an event to mark the eight year anniversary of the Australian government recommencing offshore indefinite detention: 8 Years: Stop the Torture Now on 18 July. See more information: https://www.facebook.com/AdelaideVigil/