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ACMRO News April 2016

Papua New Guinea Supreme Court Decision

ACMRO Media Statement 29 April 2016

The decision of the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal is a welcome sign of hope for those currently in detention on Manus Island, Fr Maurizio Pettenà, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, said today.

“This ruling is important because it highlights the fact that governments have human rights obligations under domestic and international laws.

We also welcome the decision of the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, to close the Manus Island detention centre as a result of the ruling.

The Australian Government’s response to people seeking asylum should first and foremost focus on respecting their human dignity.

I urge the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, to use this opportunity to show leadership and act to end indefinite mandatory offshore detention.

If the Australian Government insists on returning people to their country of origin or moving people to other countries as a result of this decision, the Government must ensure no asylum seeker is at risk of persecution or violence.

The Catholic Church opposes mandatory indefinite detention and offshore detention, these policy responses do not respect the dignity of people seeking our refuge.

Whilst Governments have a responsibility to manage migration flows into countries, the Australian Government’s approach is harsh and needs to change; the dignity of the human person must always come first.”

Fr Maurizio Pettena, Director ACMRO

This statement is also available on the ACBC website.

Lesbos and Australia: one pope, one people

Since the end of the Second World War, global migration has become increasingly constrained through tougher immigration policies. This has seen long queues of applicants waiting for visas whilst fundamental human rights are increasingly disregarded, giving rise to increasing numbers of irregular and undocumented immigrants.

On Saturday 16 April, Pope Francis flew to the Greek island of Lesbos. In recent weeks, this island has become a place of confinement for thousands of people seeking refugee from what has now escalated into genocide in Syria and in other parts of the Middle East. For the international media, Lesbos and the island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily, represent how Europe deals with forced migration.

Pope Francis is no doubt a strategist of images and symbols. A visit of the Pope, though pastoral in nature and purpose, always carries a political impact, in the sense that it draws the attention of the whole world, and challenges it.

Since the beginning of his pontificate, through images and symbols, Pope Francis is bringing the world to see and touch the flesh of refugees who otherwise would fall into the cracks of institutionalised policies. It is worth following the Pope on the stops of his symbolic refugee pilgrimages: Pope Francis’ first visit outside the Vatican brought him to Lampedusa; not long after, he met with refugees at the Jesuit Refugee Service in Rome. The powerfully symbolic images of the Mass celebrated at the border between Mexico and the USA showed the faces of people in a mixture of hope and fear.


New Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub opened

On Thursday 28 April, the new Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub, a much needed service in Melbourne’s inner-north, will be officially opened by Cr Samantha Ratnam, Mayor of Moreland, and blessed by Reverend Monsignor Anthony Ireland STD EV PP, Episcopal Vicar for Health, Aged and Disability Care in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

The new service, located on the ground floor at 503 Sydney Road in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, will provide healthcare services for asylum seekers and refugees.

“Cabrini is committed to making a difference to the disadvantage faced by asylum seekers and refugees,” says Dr Michael Walsh, Chief Executive of Cabrini. “We believe that working collaboratively is the most effective way to address disadvantage and will lead to the best health outcomes for the people we want to serve.”

Victoria has one of the highest asylum seeker and refugee settlement numbers in Australia. Many asylum seekers in our community have neither work rights nor access to government benefits such as Medicare, Centrelink, housing or emergency relief.

Click here to read the full article.

Simone Weil Lecture on Human Value

Wednesday 18 May, Melbourne and Monday 30 May, Brisbane

A free public lecture to be delivered by Professor Robert Audi
(ACU Professorial Fellow and John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame)
We routinely take ourselves to have obligations to our fellow citizens. But if we believe that every person matters, and especially if we believe that all are in some sense children of God—or in some other way equally “citizens” in this globalized world—we will also think that we have transnational obligations. These include obligations concerning resistance to global warming, support of charities, and, in perhaps more direct ways, preserving world peace.  On these and other counts, the refugee crisis is a major concern. It threatens the stability of the entire Middle East and extends to countries in Africa and Asia as well. Other concerns include dangers posed by failed states and “rogue regimes”. With these and other problems in view, this presentation considers the extent to which some version of nationalism or, by contrast, cosmopolitanism, is morally justified. Our answer to this question will have major bearing on how conscientious citizens should respond to the global problems now confronting humanity.
For further details or to register, please visit

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