We believe that Australia can do much better in its response to asylum seekers.
We regard Australians as capable of more compassion and support for people who have been through trauma and danger. Our political leaders should be willing to reinforce this with policies that are just and fair.
The fact that the UNHCR and many human rights groups have spoken out about Australia's approach as in conflict with our obligations under the Refugee Convention is a further cause for concern. As a member of the UN Security Council, Australia should be upholding international standards of conduct rather than adopting a narrow interpretation of its responsibilities.
We support the ongoing concern of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce to “commit to care for, walk with and speak out for those who come in need”.
We will continue to offer practical assistance to asylum seekers and refugees. At the same time we call upon the Government and Opposition to reconsider their policies with a view to ensuring fair and humane treatment for vulnerable people seeking our help.
We support moves within the United Nations and in our region to address the causes of the flow of people seeking safety and refuge when their lives are at risk.
In 2018, Australian Quakers remain deeply concerned about the safety, health and welfare of asylum seekers and refugees located on Manus Island. The movement of the refugees from the Australian Government’s Regional Processing Centre to other facilities near Lorengau continues to expose them to the threat of violence from the local community. The Lorengau facilities offer less protection for the refugees than previously, where several detainees were attacked and assaulted by PNG locals. At Lorengau, the detainees are subject to further psychological trauma, living with the constant fear of violent attack or robbery.
We urge the Australian Government to give effect to its obligations under the Refugee Convention. While approximately 80 eligible asylum seekers have so far been resettled in the United States, the Government should take greater steps to speed up this process, and to reconsider the resettlement offer recently renewed by New Zealand. Australia’s response should end the dehumanising and cruel treatment of the Manus Island refugees and asylum seekers. We call for the implementation of humane solutions, informed by compassion.
Friends involvement in refugee action
We have always welcomed refugees to our Meetings and have recently been joined by Quakers from Africa. Several of our Regional Meetings have support programs for refugees and some joined the recent Sanctuary program to provide protection for asylum seekers.
The Quaker Shop
The Quaker Shop in Adelaide raises significant amounts of money each year to assist refugees in Australia and overseas.
Friends Committee on National Legislation
The Friends Committee on National Legislation is a lobbying organization in the public interest founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends. FCNL works for social and economic justice, peace, stewardship of the environment, and good government.
Quaker United Nations Office
The Quaker United Nations Office is a non-governmental organisation representing the Religious Society of Friends at the United Nations. Parent bodies of QUNO are the Friends World Committee for Consultation, American Friends Service Committee and Quaker Peace and Social Witness. FWCC holds consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and has offices in Geneva and New York City.