The Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod is deeply concerned about the welfare of refugees, both those detained in Nauru in Australia’s name and those who have come to Australia seeking safety and have had their supports and benefits cut off by the Australian Government.
Our firm position is that people seeking asylum and refugees should have their human rights upheld. This means they are supported – with fairness, compassion and justice.
Of significant distress is recent reporting regarding the medical status of children on Nauru, particularly that a large number of these children are in very poor or critical condition.
With this in mind, we are concerned about the indefinite detention of those currently in Nauru, particularly children, knowing that this can certainly cause long term damage including irreparable damage to their developing brains.
The church cannot and will not support any government policies that inflict harm upon innocent children. We urge the Australian Government to bring these children and their families to safety immediately, for proper assessment and treatment. We want these families living in our suburbs, being part of our communities and going to school. We believe all children have the right to personal safety, an education, good health care and a bright future.
The church is also deeply concerned about the increasing numbers of people who have come to Australia seeking safety, legally migrated and have recently had their supports and benefits cut off by the Australian Government. Among those affected include people who have reached the end of their visa application process, with a final determination of “No”; and, more recently, increasing numbers of those people whose visa applications have not yet been processed.
In Brisbane alone, there are more than 100 individuals in this situation and facing utter destitution, with numbers increasing all the time. These people live amongst us. By operating in the church and the community sector, we, as churches, as well as our supporters, are expected to help rescue these people from homelessness, starvation and desperation. Comprehensive support is required for these people including housing, food, clothing, transport, medications in addition to sourcing employment opportunities wherever possible.
As people of faith, we believe that every person must be treated with humanity, decency and with respect for their dignity. This is absolutely what we expect of a civilised society.
Australia is a wealthy country and we can certainly afford to provide basic and decent levels of support for people who are under our care. We urge the government to rethink this policy of forced destitution.
We appeal to Governments at all levels, to exercise their powers to help resolve these situations humanely and speedily.
(Rev) David Baker
Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod