From faith to action: calling for a renewed Catholic response to the removal of support for people seeking asylum in Australia

three generations of refugee women

As one of the largest organized demographics in the country, Catholics have the real potential to be heard and to shape the national conversation on policies such as this.

From faith to action: calling for a renewed Catholic response to the removal of support for people seeking asylum in Australia

Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) cuts and their devastating impacts:

The Australian government is cutting income support, torture and trauma counseling, and casework services for thousands of children, women, and men seeking asylum and safety in our cities and towns.

Many people have already been cut off and, while some have found work, hundreds like Shanthi, Priyan, and baby Raj have not, and are struggling to put food on the table, and find safe places to stay.

The government has outlined that people seeking asylum assessed to be ‘work ready’ will be required to find work within 28 days in order to survive.

Many in this group are single mothers, people with debilitating mental and chronic illnesses, physical injuries and precarious legal statuses, which make entering the workforce within such a short period unrealistic.

Should the policy take full effect in the coming weeks and months, it is anticipated that up to 7,000 of people seeking asylum could confront hunger, homelessness and situations of harm on our streets

Notably, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia, St Francis Social Services, St Vincent De Paul Society, and other national Catholic organisations providing services to people seeking asylum at the forefront of the response to this cruel change, have warned that NGOs and charities simply cannot cope with the numbers of people likely to be affected.

As we approach Migrant and Refugee Week (20th – 26th August 2018), we invite our fellow Catholic brothers and sisters to reflect on how we as a national community, can turn Pope’s Francis’ call to “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants and refugees” into action across parishes, schools, and local neighborhoods across Australia at a time when innocent lives are at stake.

Supporting people affected directly:

Many of the people affected by these cuts need food, shelter, access to employment, and or cash transfers to pay for medication or school supplies.

If you, your parish or organisation can make housing available, help an affected person pay their rent, or provide employment, we want to hear from you.

A donation will help people affected access crisis response casework services, specialist employment assistance, temporary shelter, food and basic goods (e.g. sanitary items or school supplies).

You can make a donation to one of the following Catholic organisations directly involved:

Changing hearts and minds:

As one of the largest organized demographics in the country, Catholics have the real potential to be heard and to shape the national conversation on policies such as this.

If you think this policy is wrong and does not reflect Catholic or Australian values, get involved. You can:

  • Show solidarity:
    • Put up a banner, flyer or photo/video message on social media supporting the right of people seeking asylum ‘to a basic safety net’ and/or ‘to a roof over their heads’
    • Send us an email (communications@jrs.org.au), Facebook post (JRS Australia) or tweet (@JRS_Aus) telling us about it so that we can spread the word.
  • Raise awareness within your Dioceses or your Parish about SRSS cuts and their impact.
  • Host a Table TalkWelcome Dinner, or Words That Work workshop to help change community attitudes and let people know they are welcome.
  • Call or visit your local Federal MP. See Caritas’ guide to engaging your MPfor some useful tips.
  • Share your own message on social media to stand for #RoofOverMyHead, #dignitynotdestitution and #changethepolicy.

To learn more about this policy change, check out the following link to: contact JRS Australia directly at:

To download and print this story please click here.

 “For us Christians, hospitality offered to the weary traveller is offered to Jesus Christ himself, through the newcomer: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Mt 25:35). The duty of solidarity is to counter the throwaway culture and give greater attention to those who are weakest, poorest and most vulnerable.” —Pope Francis

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