Asylum seekers are in need of our protection, not more difficulty, according to the Justice4RefugeesWA network, who are organizing the Walk for Justice for Refugees on Palm Sunday April 29 2015. They are a group of over 20 civil society organisations, churches and individuals calling for humane policies for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.
Prominent businesswoman and philanthropist Janet Holmes à Court AC; former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia and Senior Australian of the Year Fred Chaney AO; and multi-award winning author Tim Winton have all agreed to take part in this year’s walk to ask for compassion not punishment for refugees and asylum seekers.
“The response we make to asylum seekers is inhuman and counter-productive,” said The Most Reverend Roger Herft, Anglican Archbishop of Perth. “The majority of refugees and asylum seekers who receive a positive outcome begin life in this country under restraint and in detention. Those who receive a negative outcome return with deep resentment. It pays to be who we are – hospitable and welcoming.”
Uniting Church Synod of WA Moderator Rev Steve Francis, echoed this sentiment saying, “Many people seeking our help are struggling to cope with the misery our detention regime creates. Even those who are released are not afforded many of the basic securities and opportunities needed to thrive in our community. The time for a compassionate policy change on refugees is well overdue.”
The group and its supporters will be gathering in the grounds of St George’s Cathedral at 1pm on Sunday 29 March before conducting a peaceful walk, palm fronds in hand, on the footpaths of the streets of Perth. Similar events are due to take place across the country as part of a national day of action for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
More than twenty community groups and churches are part of the Justice4refugees network in Perth, who have come together to call for:
• Compassion not punishment.
• An end to offshore processing.
• An end to mandatory detention.