Monday 19 May 2008
Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has welcomed the Federal Government’s Budget announcement that temporary protection visas for refugees would be abolished.
In welcoming the decision, the Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that many Catholics in the Brisbane Archdiocese needed to be thanked for their efforts to promote the human rights of asylum seekers in recent years.
“Since 2002, the Commission has asked local Catholics to sign petitions and to write letters of support for a number of asylum seekers who were seeking Australia’s protection,” Mr Arndt said.
“It is due to their efforts, in part, that Zahra and her family became Australian citizens last year and that Kibre will become a citizen this Thursday,” he said.
“Because of the compassion and generous hearts of many people, they no longer have to live in fear that they will be returned where they were persecuted,” he said.
“The abolition of temporary protection visas means that, once an asylum seeker is recognized as a refugee, they do not have to worry that they could be sent back to violence and persecution after their visa expires,” he said.
“They can get on with their lives, secure in the knowledge that they can continue to live in a country where they will be safe,” he said.
“Catholics should know that their efforts have helped to bring about this decision which gives some dignity back to people who seek our country’s help and protection,” he said.
“This work is very much part of our mission in the world,” he said.
Mr Arndt said that the Commission encouraged Catholics to continue to maintain an interest in the welfare of asylum seekers and refugees.
“We encourage everyone to get involved in activities during Refugee Week from June 16 to 22,” he said.
“We also hope that those who wrote letters of support for people like Zahra and Kibre will come to a special celebration at the end of August at which some of the refugees we have helped will be present,” he said.
“We are working with the Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care to organize an event to say thank you to Catholics who helped us over the past few years,” he said.
“We also want them to have an opportunity to find out what is happening now for the refugees they helped,” he said.
More details of these events will be announced in the next month.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.
NB This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter which enables it to speak in its own right. The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.