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Church heads urge government to revise extended Pacific solution for refugees


Leaders of seven Australian Churches have collectively written to the Prime Minister John Howard, expressing their opposition to the changes proposed to Australia’s processing of asylum seekers. The changes mean Australia will send asylum seekers who arrive here to Nauru until their claims are processed.

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has consistently opposed the ‘Pacific Solution’ system of off-shore processing centres since its introduction in 2001. “If this new Bill passes into legislation, it will effectively mean that Australia will cease to be a place of refuge for those directly fleeing from violence and persecution,” said Revd John Henderson, General Secretary of the NCCA.

“If other countries behaved like this, the world would become a much more dangerous place for everyone, especially those being persecuted. There would simply be nowhere to go when you are in fear of your life. We can and should do better than that.”

“The regime of detention forced upon people by the Pacific Solution has already been shown to cause unnecessary trauma through prolonged and isolated detention. All it really achieves is removing them from the consciousness of ordinary Australians who would want to see those suffering people being given a fair go,” said Mr Henderson.

In their letter the leaders of seven Australian Churches have urged the Prime Minister to reconsider the legislation, and have asked the Government to act compassionately towards people arriving here in genuine need of help and protection.