Call to maintain parish support for people seeking asylum

Thursday 13 July 2017

Catholic Social Services Victoria

Sr Brigid Arthur and Paris Aristotle, together with Jefry, a former refugee from West Papua, parish leaders Mark Northeast (St Mary's, Williamstown) and Ray Johnson (St Thomas the Apostle, Blackburn), addressed 30-plus participants at St Monica's Primary School, Moonee Ponds on Tuesday, 11 July 2017.

Together, they pointed to the enormous amount of support being provided by communities, social service agencies, religious groups and parishes who come to their aid. Sr Brigid spoke of the large numbers of individuals and families desperately seeking accommodation, financial support and employment, while Mark Northeast and Ray Johnson described the substantial support activities undertaken by their parishes.

In a wide-ranging talk, Paris Aristotle described the global refugee crisis and the inadequate responses of the world community. He said that a determination to address the crisis, rather than fear, is required to achieve solutions. He considers calls to abandon the 1951 Refugee Convention as obsolete are misguided and that it continues to provide a suitable framework for refugee resettlement. He said that if European countries resettled as many refugees as Australia does on a per capita basis, the world refugee crisis could be resolved. He saw the practical, educational and pastoral support being provided by our communities and parishes as vital to maintaining a sense of connection to humanity and community, while protecting many thousands of people who would otherwise be left without support.

Overall, the forum provided much needed encouragement and confirmation for parish and other groups providing support to people seeking asylum that their efforts are making a vital contribution to many people in need at a dark time in Australia's migration history.
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