Remembering the forgotten in the COVID-19 environment

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“The safety and wellbeing of our communities can only be protected if we collectively do everything we can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all, and this includes for refugees and people seeking asylum,” says the ACSQ Justice Unit’s Peter Branjerdporn, who is also a pharmacist, father and Brisbane detention centre visitor

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Our Diocesan community is being called upon to support a national campaign asking the Federal Government to implement measures that would protect refugees and people seeking asylum from the health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

The call comes from the National Council of Churches in Australia and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce who are both backing the Refugee Council of Australia’s #NobodyLeftBehind campaign.

The Federal Government has recognised the health and socio-economic effects of the coronavirus for most members of our communities and is responding effectively.

However, the measures implemented by the Morrison Government have so far forgotten refugees and people seeking asylum who are significantly at risk, including men, women and children.

The safety and wellbeing of our communities can only be protected if we collectively do everything we can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all, and this includes refugees and people seeking asylum.

Currently, thousands of people seeking asylum in Australia have no access to Medicare, no work and no social security safety net.

Furthermore, an outbreak of coronavirus in any of the crowded detention centres in our cities would have a devastating effect on the people detained there, and consequently detention centre staff and the broader community.

This is why the National Council of Churches in Australia and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce are supporting the Refugee Council of Australia’s campaign, which asks for the following:

  1. Moving people urgently out of crowded onshore immigration detention facilities.
  2. Ensuring a financial safety net and Medicare access for all in Australia, including people seeking asylum and refugees.
  3. Preventing people losing legal status and access to support.
  4. Moving refugees and people seeking asylum from PNG and Nauru.
  5. Ensuring that refugees on temporary Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEVs) are not penalised in light of COVID-19.

These measures would help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in crowded detention facilities.

They would also prevent more people from becoming homeless and ensure that people seeking asylum and refugees have the medical treatment they need to stay healthy and to avoid getting others sick.

The best way we can help support this call is for people across our Diocesan community to contact their Federal elected representatives.

The Refugee Council of Australia is making this easy for people to do. Please visit the Refugee Council of Australia’s website today and simply add your name, postcode and email address to an electronic form and an email will be automatically sent to your Federal elected representative.

Every person has the right to health care and to live in safety with their family.

To keep everyone safe and well, we must all work together to protect the health of all.

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