During my time working at Anglicare Victoria and before that the Melbourne City Mission I became more aware that government and in particular some governments do not play fair. I also became aware how government ministers when elected somehow seem to forget or ignore their own values on important matters, in order to avoid upsetting their party. They say publicly one thing to win approval from the public and then do the opposite or in fact nothing at all to solve an important social issue or address inequality. Their actions favour the powerful and make it more difficult for those who, through no fault of character or life choices, struggle to survive and to support their families. I could give you many examples. One in particular is our refusal to welcome refugees from many countries, including Afghanistan. A fellow priest and colleague recently wrote:
“Becoming an advocate for refugees has made me aware of just how much money has been spent on cruelty to asylum seekers. I am aware of how little action is taken and how the action that is taken is dressed up to look good, when it is in fact still ‘nothing’. (This goes for the announcement of 15,000 refugee places. No one reads that this is over four years and that it is not an addition to our humanitarian intake. The government is banking on the fact that no one cares much about Afghanistan now, except those for whom ‘Afghan Asylum Seeker’ has become Asef and Hamid and their families…“
I know I am not the only one to be exasperated at the lack of progress in granting the family from Sri Lanka full permanent residency and the men housed in detention in the Hotel in Melbourne, locked up for years. The cost and suffering we are inflicting is beyond belief and it is beyond belief that the Australian people are willing to accept it.
As Christians who believe not only in a fair go but justice for all, I encourage you to write, shout, join rallies and make your voice heard, demanding an end to this inhumane treatment. I hope we can make this a topic of urgent conversation this week and demand a Christian humanitarian response from those with power who have the opportunity and who claim Christian faith.