Justice, humanity and compassion for refugees on Manus Island

07 February 2018

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Video:
In November 2017, thousands of passionate people took to the streets to demand the government take action to end the horror on Manus Island.Credit: Corey Oakley
With your help, the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) is a public voice in Australia against the mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers, especially those on Manus Island who are stranded without support, safety or hope for the future. 

With your support, Act for Peace has long spoken out against the mistreatment and injustice faced by refugees and asylum seekers – people who simply want a safe life for themselves and their families.

In 2013, Act for Peace helped set up the ACRT, to push for a more just and compassionate response to people who seek refuge in Australia after fleeing violence and disaster.  

Executive Officer Caz Coleman said that today, the ACRT counts a range of churches, faith-based organisations and big-hearted individuals as its members. 

Our vision for refugee and asylum seeker policy reflects the Christian principle of showing hospitality and compassion to the stranger. It also reflects the stance of the United Nations, which has condemned Australia’s policy of mandatory, and offshore detention, as ‘unsustainable, inhumane and contrary to its human rights obligations’.  
 

Video:
In November, thousands of people joined an emergency protest and marched through the streets of Melbourne in solidarity with refugees on Manus Island. Credit: Corey Oakley
We have consistently called on the government to abandon the policy of not allowing those transferred to Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, to enter Australia.
Caz Coleman
The taskforce will also continue to rally the government to meet its responsibilities for the children, women and men languishing in offshore detention.
With the backing of supporters like you, the ACRT has been a powerful voice for policy change. In 2016, it teamed up with GetUp on the #LetThemStay campaign, which helped to change community attitudes towards those seeking asylum in Australia. 
That same year, the taskforce also introduced the Sanctuary Movement to provide safe haven for refugees in the High Court case challenging offshore detention. 

In a powerful show of solidary and compassion, more than 120 churches around Australia were ready to provide housing and practical support, should people be made to return to Nauru or Manus Island. The fact that there was not an attempt to forcibly remove anyone was a great success for the Sanctuary Movement and the #LetThemStay campaign – and proves the power of your kindness and support.

When asked how Australians in the church community felt about refugees and asylum seekers, ACRT Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt said the issue could be complex. 

Many Australians support ‘tough’ positions against asylum seekers and fear the ‘floodgates’ opening if we were to have more compassionate policies. These fears can bring us into conflict when we are trying to live faithful lives as Christians, and seeking to respond to others with the grace of God.

But when we turn away from the media debate and to the origins our faith, we see the call to stand with those who are marginalised, oppressed and persecuted is clear in the Scriptures. Since its beginning, the Christian church has sought to extend the love of God to those in need
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Thank you for helping the ACRT to keep caring for vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.