Photo Credit: Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship
[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Australia’s faith communities should be allowed to help settle and provide care for those asylum seekers still being held in offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has said.
The Bishop of Oodthenong in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Philip Huggins, is the president of the NCCA. In a joint statement with NCCA general secretary, Sister Elizabeth Delaney, he said this week: “Hospitality and compassion are shared core values of the major world religions, notwithstanding our many mistakes and failures.
“We are writing to the Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration and Border Protection, asking that they meet us so we can clarify how together we can co- operate to settle and care for these people.
“The continuing reports out of both places are a source of deep concern. Plainly, it has not been possible to find a third country able to resettle them. The worsening situation in Syria has made this impossible.”
The pair hope to convene a meeting with other faith leaders and leaders from Christian overseas and domestic aid and welfare organisations, with the prime minister and government officials to work out how the faith communities can assist.
“We have considerable expertise and good will which we can bring to this task,” they said. “We understand and share the Government’s concern about people-traffickers. However, the need to resettle in Australia those refugees on Nauru and Manus outweighs and must now be separated from other considerations.
“We hope and pray our Government will partner with us to resettle these people and thus promote both their healing and ours.”