The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, has condemned plans to cut Federal Government support from a group of asylum seekers living in the Australian community.
Widespread media reports suggest that several hundred asylum seekers transferred to Australia from offshore detention for medical reasons will be placed on new category ‘Final Departure Bridging E’ visa.
Those affected will be left with no income support and forced to move out of government-supported accommodation. They will also be expected to leave Australia or return to offshore detention after six months.
A third of those affected are children. More than 20 are women who are survivors of sexual assault or rape.
“This is such a cruel way to treat vulnerable people,” said Stuart.
“Has the Australian Government lost its moral compass entirely? This is totally unacceptable. Our Government should act with compassion and let these people stay.”
The Uniting Church in Australia, since its inception, has advocated for humanitarian treatment of people fleeing violence and persecution in their homeland.
The Church’s 2015 statement Shelter from the Storm calls for a compassionate response to asylum seekers who should not be subjected to harsh and punitive policies.
Stuart McMillan and every Uniting Church Moderator wrote to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on 21 August to urge him to deal more humanely with asylum seekers and refugees, including those being held in offshore detention.
“Mr Dutton’s actions show he clearly places no value on what Uniting Church leaders think. For the sake of these vulnerable people I’d urge his Government colleagues including the Prime Minister to intervene and ensure a compassionate response,” said Stuart.