The Uniting Church has been providing care and support for asylum seekers and refugees and advocating for their just and humane treatment since its formation in 1977. The Church's chaplains have served in immigration detention centres including those in Woomera, Port Hedland, Curtin, Baxter and Christmas Island. Many clergy and members have been supporting asylum seekers in the community and visiting the centres for years, and others are active advocates for just policies.
The Uniting Church's 2015 statement, Shelter from the Storm, sets out a number of important principles that we should apply to Australia's policies, legislation, and practices towards asylum seekers, refugees and humanitarian entrants.
- All people should be treated with respect and accorded the dignity they deserve as human beings.
- Australia should do its fair share to ease people's sufferings in the context of what is a global problem and not shift our responsibilties to poor and developing countries.
- Policies should be driven by bipartisan commitments to a humanitarian response focussed on protection needs and to upholding our obligations under international law.
- The Australian Government must be transparent in the implementation of its policies, open to scrutiny by the courts and the media and to critique and advocacy from civil society.
A system of complementary protection helps to ensure that all protection needs are fully explored and that Australia does not breach its non-refoulement obligations, nor our other international obligations.