​Now that the Rudd Government has announced its new asylum seeker policy, we must not forget those asylum seekers already in Australia.
 
Surely, once the normal security and health checks are done, they should all be released into the community. They should be given access to both education and employment whilst their refugee status is assessed.
Let us treat those who are here decently, even whilst the new arrangements with Papua New Guinea are bedded down.
 
The Prime Minister should immediately abolish those aspects of the “no advantage” policies, which have been so punitive and ineffective, demeaning us all.
 
As regards the announced PNG arrangement, it is good that better regional co-operation is happening, especially if it impacts on the criminals behind people smuggling. Their dangerous, overcrowded boats have caused so much suffering. It is good, too, that the way might now be clearer for more of the refugees languishing in UNHCR camps to have a better hope of resettlement in Australia.

As regards PNG, the Anglican Church of Australia has a strong historic and contemporary relationship with it.
It may be that, through our Church welfare and aid agencies, we can facilitate a better future for those asylum seekers who end up settling permanently on PNG, contributing to its commonwealth.
 
The task ahead is to take up these opportunities in ways that are compassionate and honourable.
 
Contact: Bishop Philip Huggins on 0418-799-515
 

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