New policy divisive


I understand most of the people come to Australia … to escape from the danger around them, but there’s such a high chance they’re going to lose their life”. — Khaluf Alsalim, Community Develpment Worker, Shepparton.


A change to refugee policy that would result in asylum seekers coming to Australia on boats settled in Papua New Guinea has divided Shepparton community organisations. The revised policy comes as the Rudd government attempts to stem the flow of up to 3000 asylum seekers coming to Australia each month.

Authorities have intercepted more than 15 000 asylum seekers this year.

Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District community development officer Khaluf Alsalim said he welcomed the change as a necessary step to prevent the deaths of asylum seekers at sea.

‘There are too many tragic stories. People who have left their families for a better life and at the end of the day, they have no life at all,’ he said.

‘A human being’s life is worth more than arriving to Australia. I understand most of the people come to Australia … to escape from the danger around them, but there’s such a high chance they’re going to lose their life.

‘People smugglers don’t tell them how the journey will be. Most of the asylum seekers can’t even swim.’

Mr Alsalim said asylum seekers could seek protection at off-shore sites, including Australian embassies. But the Uniting Church in Australia slammed the new policy as an ‘extreme abdication of responsibility’.

In a statement, the umbrella body of Shepparton’s Uniting Care Cutting Edge organisation said the changes were designed to punish people seeking asylum. ‘We now see firmly entrenched in our political system an approach that seeks to circumvent the spirit of hospitality and compassion codified in international treaties and obligations,’’ Uniting Church Assembly president Andrew Dutney said.

‘Denying refugees the possibility of settlement in Australia denies them hope and will have a devastating impact on those who have fled persecution.’

Reverend Professor Dutney said United Nations reports showed the processing centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island were grossly inadequate. ‘(We) know that the ongoing human rights violations and extreme poverty in Papua New Guinea mean it is not a safe option for permanent resettlement of refugees,’ he said.

‘It is burden-shifting at its most base.’

 

Up to 3,000 refugees are arriving in Australia each month …

 

Article and image courtesy Shepparton News

 

 

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