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Concerns for treatment of boat people

07 September 2012

THE Australian Primate, Dr Phillip Aspinall, and the leaders of six other Christian bodies, have issued a statement expressing their "grave concern at the passing of legislation to allow for the offshore processing and indefinite detention of asylum-seekers".

The legislation was passed recently by the Australian government, in an attempt to stop the numerous boats headed for Australia carrying asylum-seekers. Hundreds of people have drowned as unseaworthy vessels foundered on the journey south from Indonesia. The other groups participating in the statement are the Roman Catholic Church, the Uniting Church, the Churches of Christ, the Congregational Federation, the Religious Society of Friends, and the Salvation Army.

The leaders say they are "deeply troubled by the potential for asylum-seekers to suffer adverse mental-health consequences, and to experience other detrimental impacts" as a result of the legislation. They expressed concern that the new regime would damage Australia's credibility, and "in particular, our ability to negotiate a humane regional system of protection".

The statement continues: "Core to the Christian faith is the principle of 'welcoming the stranger'; and Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan guides us as we seek to care for those who are vulnerable and marginalised in society. . . We are called to cross the road to help, to not turn away those in need."


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