As we move from Refugee Week to NAIDOC week, it’s fitting that we listen to Academics Mark Brett and Naomi Wolfe as they explore the roles of guest and host in the Australian context. This piece is an edited excerpt from a NAIITS Conference paper. The full paper will be published in the NAIITS Journal later in the year.
As I write this post – my first to the Common Grace movement – more than 100 children are being held indefinitely in offshore detention.
It’s no secret that they have been subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and have witnessed lip stitching, self-immolation and suicide attempts.1 Recently we’ve seen children on Nauru diagnosed with a rare psychological condition known as resignation syndrome.2 Each week we are seeing an increase in severe mental health conditions, desperate medical needs remaining untreated, and harrowing stories of fear, despair and hopelessness.
Some of these children have spent their entire lives in detention on Nauru, born behind bars.
When I joined Common Grace four years ago, I was a relatively new Christian.
I was exploring how my faith lives itself out in public, and through Common Grace I found a way to use my voice to speak of love, grace, compassion, justice, beauty and generosity, across a range of justice issues, including Aboriginal justice and justice for people seeking asylum.
And in the words of Jesus, I found a story of hope for children who had been neglected and abandoned by our government:
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are like these children.” - Matthew 19:14
As Christians, our hearts break for this injustice. But we do not – and cannot – sit silent in grief. We must stand with these children, uphold their rights and call on our government to let the children come.
In three months, on November 20th, it will be Universal Children's Day – an international day set aside to improving child welfare across the world. We're praying – and taking action to ensure – that by this date all children subject to offshore processing in Nauru will be brought to safety to Australia with their families.
At the heart of our faith is a deep belief that all life is precious, and that those who are vulnerable and subject to injustice have God's ear. May we too bend our ear to the cries of those in detention, longing for hope, praying for relief.
Take action today → Sign the petition to get #KidsOffNauru by Universal Children's Day
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Over the last few years Kate Leaney has worked with with Welcome to Australia, Love Makes A Way, the Uniting Church in WA and is now leading Common Grace's Justice for People Seeking Asylum campaign. Kate views her faith as a constant call to stand on the side of justice, and sees Common Grace as a beautiful opportunity to use her voice to speak the kind of radical love seen in Jesus' witness.
#KidsOffNauru is a nation-wide campaign involving hundreds of organisations across faith and civil society. Together we are calling for the immediate resettlement of children, and their families, who are being held indefinitely on Nauru.