​Melbourne Anglican Archbishop the Most Reverend Dr Philip Freier has today applauded the willingness of Australia’s near neighbours to work together in response to the humanitarian needs of asylum seekers.
“If countries with their own development needs like Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have seen the value of working together with Australia, surely we can find a bipartisan approach to our own nation’s policies,” he said.
 “Our nation’s political leaders owe it to us all to put aside electoral advantage and agree on policies that are compassionate and protect asylum seekers from exploitation and death at sea. We have a system in crisis and nothing less than a national consensus can fix it.”
Dr Freier said that while shaping migration policy is the legitimate role of a national government, there is no less responsibility to find a way forward that safeguards the human rights of asylum seekers. 
He said that Christian Churches in Australia, with their long history of relations with the Churches of PNG and goodwill towards asylum seekers, should be engaged as partners in responding towards PNG’s new challenge.
“Church agencies have significant skill in the area of trauma counselling, resettlement and employability programs. These will all be vital elements in supporting the asylum seekers who are given residency in PNG.” 
Dr Freier said the lack of engagement of community groups in Australia would only impede arriving at a bipartisan position. “Asylum seekers who have been released into the community need to be freed from the punitive effects of the now abandoned ‘no advantage’ policy”, he said.
“It does not take much for the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to tone down the rhetoric of the debate and show national leadership by agreeing on effective policies now that can be put in place with sufficient confidence to endure beyond the federal election.”
Communications Director Roland Ashby on 9653 4215 or 0418 342 561

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