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Palm Sunday 2022 Lives on the Lawn

Church and community leaders have today joined refugees outside St George’s Cathedral in the centre of Perth to call for a reset of Australia’s refugee policies. The group gathered in front of a visual display of cut-out figures representing the more than 1600 refugees and people seeking asylum in Western Australia who remain stuck on temporary visas or in detention.

The group was celebrating the release of two refugees from the Perth Immigration Detention Centre this week. The two Iranian refugees had been in locked detention after being “medevaced” from Manus Island in 2019.

The Government’s decision to release “medevaced” refugees follows another recent announcement by the Federal Government to create an extra allocation of humanitarian visas for people fleeing Afghanistan and Ukraine.

“Our hope is that the Australian Government’s latest move to release more refugees into the community and to provide more humanitarian visas to people escaping Afghanistan and Ukraine is a sign that it will now move away from its current harsh stance against the 30,000 people who are already in Australia, having fled for safety by sea,” said the Anglican Archbishop of Perth, The Most Reverend Kay Goldsworthy AO.

“It has become clear to the entire world that when people flee for their lives from situations of conflict and oppression, desperation dictates the means of escape. As we have seen in Afghanistan and now in Ukraine, official processes and systems break down in a crisis and can even be used against the most vulnerable.

“It is up to the rest of the world to adapt with compassion to such humanitarian crises. Those most impacted by the crisis should not have to jump through endless hoops in their quest for safety, security and freedom.”

Nader Hosseini is a tiler in the Perth building industry and a refugee from the Hazara ethnic minority in Afghanistan. He said people in his situation were in increasing despair, saying, “We have fled the Taliban nearly 10 years ago and yet we still cannot be with our families. I have my four children still in danger. The Australian government has agreed that I am a refugee, but they won’t allow me to bring my family here.”

Mr Hosseini is one of approximately 20,000 refugees living, working and paying tax in Australia who remain stuck on an endless loop of temporary visas. There are a further 11,000 people on bridging visas still awaiting the outcome of their asylum claims, as well as a smaller number who remain in detention facilities around Australia or are being processed offshore in Papua New Guinea or Nauru. Two weeks ago, Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews announced that Australia will now accept New Zealand’s offer, first made in 2013, to take 150 people per year for the next three years.

Unfortunately, for Mr Hosseini and the vast majority of the more than 30,000 people who arrived by boat up to 10 years ago, they will be ineligible for the scheme and will remain in limbo.

Abdullah Shahabi is also a refugee from Afghanistan living in Perth on a temporary visa. He says that people are beyond desperate, saying, “It is extremely hard for people to remain positive when they can’t see hope for a better future.”

Mr Shahabi fled Afghanistan to seek asylum in Australia in 2012. He waited five years for his refugee claim to be processed, and was then granted a five year Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV). This temporary visa makes it very difficult for him to expand his business.

“I am a painter. I have my own business and I hire other people. I started the business around one year ago. I cannot get a bank loan to improve my business. If I want to buy equipment or a car for my business, I have to pay cash.

“Being on a temporary visa has also affected my mental health. Not being able to see my family, or bring them here, makes me very sad. And now there is the terrible situation in Afghanistan. It is so hard to concentrate and I find it difficult to talk to people.”

Susy Thomas, Moderator of the Uniting Church Western Australia agreed saying that, “It is cruel to continually steal people’s hope. There is no justification to deprive people their freedom and families after nearly 10 years. “With a federal election coming up we would like to invite our political leaders to reset the overly harsh policies that continue to impact people who have been here for close to 10 years now.”

Alison Xamon, General Manager of the Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD) said she was pleased to see the release of “medevaced” refugees from places like the Park Hotel in Melbourne and the Perth Immigration Detention Centre but was also concerned about the increasing demands on their service saying, “We are delighted for the two gentlemen who have been released in Perth and for all who are no longer locked up across the country. This is long overdue and CARAD is ready and willing to assist these men to adapt to life in the Perth community after nearly 10 years in some form of detention.

“At the same time we are conscious of the significant increase in need among our client community. We will continue to do what we can to adapt and we are grateful for our volunteers and the community donations we receive to assist us, but the reality is that there continues to be drastic cuts to the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) program. In WA, out of the thousands of people seeking asylum living in our community, only 78 people remain eligible to receive just $36 per day from Centrelink (through the SRSS program). All of the other people seeking asylum are completely ineligible for any form of Centrelink.

“The federal government must stop deliberately forcing people seeking asylum to live in the community with no financial support while they take years to process asylum claims.”

Associate Professor Caroline Fleay, Co-Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University said there is a growing awareness that refugees like Mr Hosseini and Mr Shahabi and their families should be treated fairly. “It doesn’t make any sense to deny refugees their human rights. After 10 years, people need to be able to settle alongside their families. And there is research that shows there is an economic benefit to local communities if refugees like Nader and Abdullah, who are filling much-needed labour shortages, are allowed to bring their families here and are permitted to fully invest in their local communities.”

To highlight the difficulties facing refugees on temporary visas in Western Australia, Mr Hosseini and Mr Shahabi have worked with supporters to launch an awareness campaign called We All Need Our Families. Their stories, along with a number of others can be found at www.weallneedourfamilies.com

Palm Sunday Wrap Up 2021

People joined us in hubs, homes and in person in the city to call for Justice and a Fair Go for Refugees. You can watch the full event online HERE!

Justice for Refugees WA, a network of more the 40 community organisations, faith groups and human rights agencies, is calling on Australia’s political leaders to abandon the current harsh and unjust policies of detention, uncertainty and limbo, and to instead provide permanent protection for people seeking safety. Instead of prolonging the despair of people seeking asylum, the group calls for political leaders to provide protection, security and freedom, through a fair and just process.

Over several years the group has coordinated the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees along with groups around the country. This year, as a precautionary approach in light of COVID-19, the group hosted a live webinar event at the Uniting Church in the City Hall, Perth, which was watched by small groups gathered in community centres and homes across the state.

Farhad Bandesh, a Kurdish asylum seeker who was recently released from a Melbourne immigration facility following eight years of detention, called into the Perth Palm Sunday event to share his experience. Mr Bandesh said, “I can’t describe how good it feels to be out of detention – freedom is beautiful. We just need everyone to be free.”

Joanna Josephs, General Manager of the Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD) was a guest speaker at the event. CARAD provides essential case management, emergency relief and volunteer support for people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds in Perth, and they are concerned at the increasing demands on their service.

Ms Josephs explained that it was a particularly challenging time at the moment, saying, “We have been experiencing a significant increase in need among our client community.

“There continues to be drastic cuts to the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) program. In WA, out of the thousands of people seeking asylum living in our community, only 78 people remain eligible to receive just $36 per day from Centrelink (through the SRSS program). All of the other people seeking asylum are completely ineligible for any form of Centrelink.

“The federal government must not continue to deliberately force people seeking asylum to live in the community with no financial support while they take years to process asylum claims.”

Associate Professor Caroline Fleay, Co-Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University added her voice to the call for a humane response to people seeking safety saying, “Let’s be guided by compassion in how we respond to others. Instead of limbo and uncertainty, we can offer freedom and a future where people seeking asylum and their families are safe.

“The cruelty of immigration detention, forcing people to live on temporary visas indefinitely, and refusing to reunite families, none of these are humane solutions for those who have turned to us for refuge.”

Susy Thomas, Moderator of the Uniting Church Western Australia said, “Australians have had enough of the cruel marginalisation of refugees. People want to see some real change in the way people seeking asylum are treated. Indefinite detention and temporary visas create terrible anguish that we cannot, with good conscience, continue to allow.”

Refugees and people seeking asylum currently languish in either the limbo of detention or the uncertainty of temporary protection visas. People in Papua New Guinea and Nauru are approaching their eighth year in limbo.

Approximately 30,000 refugees in Australia (the “legacy caseload”) await visa grants or live on temporary visas with their futures shrouded in uncertainty and limbo. Many families are separated with no hope for reunification due to the cruelty of current policy, and live in constant fear of deportation to danger.

To join the call for action contact the UCWA Social Justice team at social.justice@wa.uca.org.au

Palm Sunday Justice for Refugees – 28 March 2021

This year our Palm Sunday Justice for Refugees event on Sunday 28 March 2021 @ 1pm will be both live at the UCIC Hall in Perth and online.
A live event in the city will be small in numbers but big on heart, streamed and accessible to dedicated hub groups, gatherings and individuals.
We’re encouraging groups big and small to gather on the day and link in, to demonstrate a broad and united movement of people and organisations who call for justice and dignity for refugees and people seeking asylum.
Details of the events both in Perth and hub groups is now available – go to Register 2021 for information!

Advocacy and Campaigns

On Palm Sunday 28 March groups big and small will be gathering around the state to show their support and to demonstrate a broad and united movement of people and organisations who call for justice and dignity for refugees and people seeking asylum.
If you haven’t registered for the Zoom Webinar already, the link to do so is here – https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3wSBQZwSTVOf-VoqVXoGNA

Here are some actions and advocacy you can get involved in on the day:

Support CARAD (Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees) – Pantry Packs are a very practical way of helping CARAD support asylum seekers through their foodbank program. CARAD’s foodbank provides food relief for people seeking asylum in Perth. People seeking asylum aren’t eligible for government supports and COVID-19 financial relief. Your donation will help them provide essentials to those who need it most.

CARAD Financial Support is also a vital for their ongoing work. Please go to their website for details about pantry packs and financial support options – https://www.carad.org.au/donate

#GameOver – It’s time to call #GameOver – take action to get all those trapped by Australia on Nauru and Papua New Guinea to safety. This campaign by Amnesty International encourages participants to sign the petition and continue to share information about the campaign – https://gameover.org.au/

Time for a Home – This is a national campaign demanding the release and resettlement of the remaining refugees and people seeking asylum in immigration detention in Australia. No matter where we come from or how we got here, everyone needs a safe place to call home. More information about the #Timeforahome campaign here – https://www.timeforahome.com.au/

Palm Sunday 2020: For a Just Future

Palm Sunday 2020 – resources for promotion!

Have you been thinking “I really want to promote Palm Sunday Justice for Refugees 2020 Perth: For a Just Future, but I just don’t know how”?

Fear not, we’ve prepared a promo pack just for you!

Feel free to download and share these images on your social media and invite all of your friends to join you!

#ForAJustFuture #JusticeForRefugees

Due to medical advice and general restrictions on large gatherings of people, this year’s event will be hosted online at bit.ly/PalmSundayPerth2020 

Access the promotional resources here

Here’s an image you can download and print, then take photos of people in your community sharing why they’ll be part of Palm Sunday Justice for Refugees
– Post your photos and selfies here, or email them to kate.leaney@wa.uca.org.au

socials graphics (4)

Palm Sunday 2019

We stand for justice, freedom and safety for refugees and people seeking asylum. We will not rest until freedom comes.

Palm Sunday 2019 Poster with endorsing logos FINAL v2.0

On Sunday 14th April, Perth will gather to demonstrate a broad and united movement of people and organisations who call for justice and dignity for refugees and for people seeking asylum.

Click here for updates! 

Join us:
Sunday 14th April
1.00pm
St Georges Cathedral
38 St Georges Terrace Perth

RSVP Here

Speakers include:

Welcome to Country – Mitchell Garlett
MC – Father Chris Bedding 
Salem, Hazara refugee from Afghanistan 
Arad Nik
Shamindan Kanapadhi statement from Manus Island
Anglican Archbishop of Perth, The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy

Endorsed by:

Amnesty Australia
Anglican Social Responsibilities Commission
Anglicare WA
Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
CARAD
Caritas
Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum
Catholic Archdiocese of Perth
Catholic Mission
Christian Life Community
City of Fremantle
Common Grace
Crossing Borders
Curtin Centre for Human Rights
Ethnic Communities Council of WA
Fremantle Refugee Rights Action Network
Hills Network For Refugees
Justice, Ecology and Development Office; Catholic Archdiocese of Perth
Love Makes A Way
MercyCare
Multicultural Services Centre WA
Mums For Refugees
Presentation Sisters
Quakers (Religious society of Friends in WA Regional Meeting)
Refugee Rights Action Network WA
Riverview Community Services
Socialist Alliance
Students For Refugees
Tear WA
The Greens WA
The Humanitarian Group
Unionists For Refugees
Unions WA
Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Western Australia
WA Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office
WACOSS
Welcoming Australia

Email kate.leaney@wa.uca.org.au to add your organisation to the list!

 

 

I am WYD036

I fled genocide in Burma

with my wife and children

We were separated in Indonesia

There wasn’t enough room in the van taking us to the boat heading for Australia

All the time I think about what happened

When I close my eyes

I can see that van leaving

 

A week after my family arrived in Australia

the Rudd government announced

the July 19 policy

This meant that people who arrived in Australia by boat

would be sent to Manus Island or Nauru

and never resettle in Australia.

 

When I arrived in Australia I was sent by force to Manus Island

My family are now living on bridging visas in Sydney

but I’ve been detained on Manus Island for almost 5 years

 

When I talk to my youngest son on skype

He asks me,

“When are you coming?”

“When are you coming?”

I can’t say anything in response

I do not know if or when we’ll be together again.

I am DHW342

I was born in East Africa

When I was five years old I held my mother’s hand

while we ran from bullets being shot in the civil war

 

I grew up in a refugee camp.

This is where I got married

and had two beautiful children

 

My children were only 1 and 3 years old

when I was forced to leave them in the refugee camp.

After I left my children I made my way to Indonesia.

 

It was there, before I got on the boat that I found out I was pregnant

I gave birth to my son while I was in detention.

The security guards were on watch in the hospital

as I welcomed my child into this world.

 

My son was five years old when we were granted protection

This visa protects us for the next five years.

I am grateful for this protection

but I long to be with my children

 

On this visa I am not allowed to apply

for my children to live in Australia

 

I’ve been told that maybe after ten years I can sponsor my family

I cannot be separated from my children for this long

I am thinking I have no choice

I am grateful to be safe

But I think I have to give up my visa for my children

I think I have to leave Australia

And not come back…..