Josephites with Bishop Vincent Long at the 2023 Palm Sunday Rally and March.

Refugee Week in 2023 will take place from Sunday 18 June – Saturday 24 June, with the theme being ‘Finding Freedom’.

Josephites are really grateful for the initiatives being taken by the Federal Government to promote permanent protection for those in temporary protection. We continue to work, however, for those on bridging visas who are not included in this decision, and persist in advocating for them, and for a fair deal for all those seeking welcome and permanent protection in this country.

As Josephites, we stand in solidarity with the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (a work of the National Council of Churches in Australia) in working with, and calling for justice for refugees, in Australia and internationally. Financial challenges, as well as uncertainty about their futures, remind us of the imperative to reach out.

The following statement by the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce reminds us both of the dire situation of many in Australia and the generosity of churches and communities such as the House of Welcome who are reaching out in compassion and action.

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce

Churches and charity services are overwhelmed with people seeking financial help to pay for housing, food, energy bills and medical services.

One of the groups with nowhere to turn but to churches and community charities are the 15,000 people – including children, the elderly, people with disabilities – who are waiting for their refugee visa status to be assessed in Australia.

Since 2016, Government assistance has been cut to just 1,600 people receiving a meagre living allowance, some casework support and some trauma counselling.

At the current time over 13,000 people are facing destitution, malnutrition, homelessness and serious health issues, unable to work and no means of financial support available. Their children have access to school but not past year 12 whatever their results.

In these hard times for all Australians, when the cost of living is making it difficult for all households to make ends meet so that rent, food, bills and medicines can be paid for, we need the 15,000 asylum seekers to have access to a fair safety net to help them stay out of destitution and homelessness. Teachers and community workers are also worried about malnutrition in this group.

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce is asking us to stand up to ensure that those people in our community who are seeking protection as refugees in Australia can access an income safety net.

Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.(cf Matthew 25:40) 

Contact Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil and Immigration Minister Andrew Giles and remind them that this Government promised to provide people seeking asylum “appropriate social services, including income … during the assessment of the claim for protection”.

Jan Barnett rsj
Josephite Justice Co-ordinator
Josephite Justice Network