The recent death of a man on Manus Island who had sought asylum in Australia, points to the unacceptable mistreatment of all people who are turned away from our shores.
What are these proposed changes?
On Sunday the Government announced proposed amendments to our legislation that would mean every single person who has come to Australia by boat as an "asylum seeker" - literally, someone who has sought safety in Australia - since July 2013 would be banned from ever entering Australia - even on a business or tourist visa once resettled in another country. This proposed amendment will be introduced into Parliament by the Government next week and all our political leaders will vote whether to accept it or not.
This part of a wider policy of "deterrence" that our Government is pursuing that is increasingly being recognised as flawed and inhumane. It is a policy that seeks to deter people from seeking safety in Australia in the future (and travelling by boat), by treating people who already have come to Australia in search of safety (who travelled by boat) especially harshly, and not allowing them to ever settle in Australia.
The proposed amendments would take this harsh policy one step further, and is therefore cruel and unnecessary.
What can we do?
1. Encourage our political leaders to do what is right
What an amazing, rich history of Christians advocating for justice we have documented in the Bible and in history! Let's play our own part in today's society by imploring our earthly leaders to protect the oppressed and vulnerable. The best thing that you can do is email your local political leaders and let them know that you would like them to vote against the proposed changes. You can do that here.
(See below for tips about what you might like to mention).
As Christians we are instructed to bring our concerns to God in prayer and to trust him to be faithful to answer in accordance with his will. Together, let's bring this situation to our Lord in lament and with faith, ask for his intervention and justice.
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Help! I'm not sure what to write!
It's most important that you be yourself! You can simply introduce yourself and politely explain why you would like to ask them to vote against the Government's proposed changes. Remember that you are not expected to make a convincing legal argument, you are simply emailing as a voter to make your elected representative aware of your perspective.
However, we have included the text of our statement in the email form, so you are also welcome to leave that as is, or to edit it to better reflect your thoughts.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you make contact!
Encourage others to act
You can encourage others to do good by telling your friends and family that you feel passionately about this issue and encourage them to also pray and act. You can do this by speaking to them in person, phoning, texting or emailing them, forwarding a link to this webpage, or sharing something on social media here for Facebook and here for Twitter.
For a wider perspective on Australia's immigration policy, this blog that we wrote in the lead up to this year's election provides a good overview and a several links for further reading.