THE GOOD REPORT
We began our work with a campaign to combat terrible legislation being proposed by the Government, to further strip away the rights of people seeking asylum. Despite not having officially launched yet, Common Grace mobilised over 400 people to write personal emails to crossbench Senators. In the end, the crossbench split in the wake of trade-offs from the government and the legislation passed by just one vote.
We also kicked into gear when the Rohingya refugees found themselves cast adrift at sea, unable to land on Malaysia or Thailand as both countries briefly embraced the ‘stop the boats’ rhetoric of the Australian Government. Seeing thousands of people stuck on these boats brought home to Australians the reality that ‘turn back the boats’ inevitably left refugees nowhere to go. Common Grace mobilised our community to call the Foreign Minister to ‘say yes to the Rohingya’.
When the massive wave of Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing to Europe became a worldwide crisis in the middle of 2015, Common Grace joined with our partners in the refugee sector to mobilise a massive community groundswell demanding our government resettle thousands more people. Over 2000 people signed our “Precious in His Sight” petition in less than two weeks. This community uprising caught the government by surprise, leading to a complete reversal of policy in a 3 day period, leading to the decision to welcome an additional 12,000 refugees from persecuted minorities, including Christians - a fantastic achievement!
As a team we worked hard to present a positive message of hope and hospitality, in the middle of a protracted partisan national debate. A strong emphasis has been placed on being clear what the Australian Christian community is saying “yes” to, even amidst our opposition to many inhumane government policies.
We endeavoured to resource Christians to change the conversation in their churches and personal worlds by sharing stories of individual people and communities working behind the scenes to make a real difference in the lives of asylum seekers and refugees, celebrating small acts of love and compassion.
HOPES & PLANS
Moving forward, we want to see an end to the cruel policies of ‘deterrence’ that punish asylum seekers in order to stop others from trying to come to Australia, especially the 220 children still in detention in Australia and Nauru.
With most of the 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees due to arrive in 2016, we are looking forward to providing opportunities for everyday Christians to welcome them to Australia with support, practical assistance and friendship.
We will continue to share and amplify stories of people and communities making a real difference in the lives of asylum seekers and refugees, building bridges across denominations and celebrating Christian unity in compassion.