Refugees and asylum seekers issues are major issues facing our country, with our political system taking a tough position against asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Recently, public policy and debates have centred around border protection and offshore detention in Naru and Manus, especially children in detention Naru and Manus. Fear of outsiders often results in hostility to the stranger. The call on us is to show generosity, hospitality, practical care and deep compassion (Matt 22:34-40), all of which can be pushed aside if fear overwhelms our practices. The work of advocacy as Christian moral voices is to love our neighbour, welcome the stranger & extend grace.
I am a member of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, that is calling for the united voices of Australian church congregations, to join with them to advocate for a humane approach to the care and support of refugees and asylum seekers. (click here for the ACRT media release) We need to challenge unjust systems today and stand with and care for those are marginalised, oppressed and persecuted. Under no circumstances should children be held in closed immigration detention centres – We are so thankful that last year, over 170,000 Australians signed the petition to get #kidsoffnauru and it worked!
I recently visited one of our refugee-based churches, Melbourne Mizo Church, who were holding a welcoming service of about 8 families who arrived through humanitarian visa. Having a church community to be part of provides an immediate welcome and support network for individuals and families. The churches I visit often comment that the BUV’s RAAL car loans have been huge symbol of the BUV’s welcome.
One family at Mizo community told me that the car loan they received through the RAALS scheme was a wonderful example of God’s provision, encouraging them and making them feel welcome in their new home.
Another family told me that they literally survived on bread each day for 10 years in New Delhi as they waited for their visas. When they arrived, they were empty handed, and the car loan has been a huge gift for them. They can now take their children to school, attend church together and look for employment.
Meewon Yang, Multicultural Consultant
Below are some useful websites and refugee-related resources:
Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
Amnesty International Australia
Asylum Seekers Resource Centre
Australian Council for International Development
Brotherhood of St Laurence
Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia
Foundation House – The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture
Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project
International Detention Coalition
Jesuit Refugee Service Australia
Refugee Council of Australia
Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre
Refugee and Immigration Legal Service
Settlement Council of Australia
World Vision Australia