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A refugee rally in Melbourne, file photo from 2016 (Bigstock)

As Refugee Week begins, the St Vincent de Paul Society is calling on the Albanese Government to end Australia’s offshore detention system and to treat asylum-seekers in the community with dignity.

“Refugee Week is an important opportunity to highlight community concerns about the Australian Government’s cruel and harmful refugee and asylum-seeker policies,” national president Mark Gaetani said.

“This year’s theme of ‘finding freedom’ is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with refugees and to reflect on what freedom means and how Australians can help refugees achieve it.”

Mr Gaetani said the country will soon mark the 10th anniversary of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s July 2013 announcement that people arriving by boat would be sent to Papua New Guinea and never re-settled in Australia.

“The past decade has seen thousands of people who arrived in Australia by boat seeking asylum treated with cruelty and neglect despite being entitled to seek protection under international law,” Mr Gaetani said.

“More than 3000 people have been sent to PNG and Nauru. They have been forced to live in substandard conditions and experience immeasurable suffering and neglect.

“Surely the time has come for Australia to show compassion and care towards people seeking a better life in this country.”

Mr Gaetani repeated the Society’s demand for the Albanese Government to implement the Labor Party’s pledge to increase the humanitarian intake, particularly for Afghan places.

“Afghans who worked for the Australian Government in very high-risk occupations and have close links to Australia are not being prioritised,” he said.

“An implementation plan towards an annual humanitarian program of 27,000 places, with 5000 additional places for community sponsored refugees, by 2025-26, is essential.”


Refugee Week 2023 – St Vincent de Paul Society National Council