Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Pitt Street is a strong supporter of and advocate for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. Over a period of years we have assisted a number of individuals including making representations to the Department of Immigration. We addition we have joined other people of faith and community groups in public rallies to support a change of government policies. At the time of writing (February 2020) the Australian government continues to imprison 500 people on Manus Island and Nauru. We believe the camps should be closed and these people immediately brought to Australia.

Each Friday afternoon a gathering to advocate for refugees is held on the steps of the Sydney Two Hall. This is organised by a Pitt Street member and it is welcome for all to attend.

We have:

  • hosted public meetings for the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC), a community activist organisation campaigning for the rights of refugees in Australia since 1999.
  • supported the Asylum Seekers Centre, a place of hospitality and welcome. The Centre is an oasis for many people, a safe place for those who have fled situations of great danger.
  • hosted a Mardi Gras forum on LGBTIQ people and refugees.

State and National Uniting Church agencies, along with many congregations, are active in support refugees and asylum seekers. “Shelter from the storm” is a 2015 detailed church report which provides guiding principles and policies for Uniting Church actions. It is found on the Uniting Justice website , and includes includes ten principles for good policy, as follows:

  1. The human rights of asylum seekers and refugees should be upheld at all times.
  2. The Australian response to asylum seekers and refugees should be based on humanitarian principles.
  3. Asylum seekers must not be subject to mandatory and indefinite detention.
  4. Australia’s policies and legislation should refer particularly to the rights and needs of child asylum seekers and refugees.
  5. The conditions of detention must be humane and uphold people’s dignity.
  6. Australia must support and uphold the legal rights of all asylum seekers, including a fair, transparent and timely process for assessing people’s refugee claims.
  7. Australia must provide adequate psychological, social and medical care, and access to education for all asylum seekers.
  8. Australia should take a lead in the development of a genuine regional approach to the protection of asylum seekers and refugees.
  9. Australia should take a truly global approach to refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced persons.
  10. People whose refugee claims have been rejected should be treated justly and humanely.