Last year, a loud chorus singing #LetThemStay reverberated across all of Australia, calling for welcome in our communities for 267 people seeking asylum who were on the verge of being deported back to Manus and Nauru.
We drew a clear line in the sand and the Australian government dared not step over it. The consequence was 267 refugees and people seeking asylum were allowed to stay in the Australian community while their claims were processed. They were provided income support and housing. And while not a perfect solution it was many times better than them being sent back to Manus or Nauru where people have died and harmed by our detention centres.
It was a loud public voice of compassion and welcome from the Australian community. And it was heard!
But 18 months later, it would seem that this same response is needed again. Just last week Peter Dutton announced that support for these people would begin to be withdrawn, starting with 100 men and women this week. Their income support is being ceased, and within just three weeks they'll be removed from their accommodation and forced to provide for themselves over the next six months, when they're expected to return to Manus or Nauru.
This is a cruel and malicious tactic to force them into returning to Manus or Nauru, the very thing we as a church fought to protect them from 18 months ago.
And so, its time for us to sing that chorus of #LetThemStay louder than ever.
Within parliament there are politicians who are unsettled by the way we're treating these vulnerable people, voices such as the Liberal member Hon. Russell Broadbent who publicly confessed that after years of silence his Christian faith now calls him to speak against the issue. But there are 149 other local members of parliament that also represent us, and we need to make sure they hear that we too will not turn a blind eye, that followers of Christ care deeply about the vulnerable who arrived on our shores seeking hope and safety for their family, and that the withdrawn is cruel, unfair and must be reversed.
So, let us together write to our politicians and call for us to act with grace and compassion to those most vulnerable in our community.
Want to learn more? Common Grace supporter Tim McCloud has written an excellent piece on his involvement in the #LetThemStay campaign, and how important it is for all Christians to get involved this time around.
The featured image used on this page is from Canberra Baptist Church when their church participated in the previous #LetThemStay campaign in 2016.