The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council’s Briefing for March is now up on the website. The Briefing covers issues of Catholic social teaching in March 2016, highlighting resources, media items and diary events. It can be read here.
From the Secretariat, John Ferguson:
The pressure brought to bear on the government has been extraordinary. Doctors at the hospital made a conscientious decision not to release the child while she faced return to Nauru because the island could not be considered a safe environment for the child. Churches and religious denominations offered sanctuary to those threatened with forcible return. There was a public vigil outside the hospital and a campaign under the banner ‘Let Them Stay’ on the streets and in the media opposing the return of the asylum seekers.
One powerful voice was that of the Chairman of the ACSJC, Bishop Vincent Long, speaking as the Bishop Delegate for Migrants and Refugees. Bishop Long reminded us that the first consideration when dealing with vulnerable people is to respect their human dignity.
‘I urge the Australian Government to ensure that no child is subject to an unsafe and harmful environment and that no-one is returned to where they may face physical, psychological and sexual violence and harm,’ Bishop Long said.
‘The Catholic Church is prepared to collaborate with other community organisations to provide support for asylum seekers,’ he said.
Yet we have to remember that the campaign is not over just because of the Immigration Minister’s decision regarding Asha and her family. Most importantly, the minister is determined that the family will return to Nauru at some time, when ‘medical assistance has been provided and the legal issues resolved’. Furthermore, the rest of the 267 asylum seekers, who had come to Australia from Nauru for reasons including medical treatment and whose cases had been in limbo while awaiting the High Court decision, are also subject to return to Nauru.