We’ll take families out of detention, West Australians offer

The Uniting Church WA welcomes Premier Colin Barnett’s comments that he supports families now held on Nauru being settled in Western Australia.

In February 2016, a number of WA churches joined with other churches around Australia in offering sanctuary to any family in Australia for medical treatment, who were in danger of being returned to Nauru.

In 2014, the Uniting Church WA joined with other churches and leading non-government care organisations in offering support and housing in the community for families with infants being held in offshore detention.

The acting moderator of the Uniting Church WA, Rev Ken Williams said, “We must always remember that asylum seekers are human like us. We find it deeply concerning that nearly 50 children remain in detention offshore and yet both major parties remain unmoved in their position on asylum seekers.

“What we are saying today is that alternatives are available. Detention is no place for any child and as a first step towards the release of all people in dehumanising detention, we will welcome families into Western Australia and offer to support them as they settle here.

“The overwhelming view of human rights organisations around the world including the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Australian Human Rights Commission is that these offshore processing facilities are doing harm to people and must be closed. The people must be brought to Australia without delay.”

The national director of UnitingJustice Australia, Rev Elenie Poulos, said that the current policies breach our duty of care to people in need and are unsustainable.

“With the closure of the centre on Manus Island and continuing revelations of the suffering of people on Nauru, the responsible course of action is for the Government to bring refugees and people seeking asylum here.

President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, has also added his voice to the growing number of advocates calling for a national summit on alternatives to Australia’s current refugee policies.

“The Federal Government should hold a summit to explore alternatives to the current policies which include the mandatory detention and offshore processing of people seeking asylum,” said Stuart.

“The recent accounts of abuse and mistreatment on Nauru are just the latest in a mountain of evidence of cruelty and abuse.

“People are not safe there and the only way to ensure their safety is to bring them to Australia. We must offer them the best available care while their claims for protection are processed.”

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