The Rural Australians for Refugees Statement on People Seeking Refuge and Asylum.
This has been endorsed by the 92 groups who are affiliated with Rural Australians for Refugees nationally (including BMRSG) and will be sent to political parties throughout the country. The statement includes policies formulated at the Refugee Alternatives Conference in Melbourne and was finalised at the Rural Australians for Refugees conference in Albury after presentations by Madeleine Gleeson and Gillian Trigg. It has been checked and edited by Julian Burnside.
STATEMENT ON PEOPLE SEEKING REFUGE AND ASYLUM
Australia needs to regain its moral credibility by:
• Recognising people arriving in Australia by using people smugglers are human beings who need help.
• Ending offshore detention. Resettling in Australia those found to be refugees.
• Ending mandatory detention of asylum seekers, while allowing for detention if exceptional circumstances are shown. Treating detainees with respect, not as criminals. Not separating families unless exceptional circumstances exist.
• Processing refugee and visa claims in a timely, efficient and consistent manner. Simplifying the visa system and granting only permanent visas.
• Using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 as a guiding principle in framing refugee policy.
• Using the UN Refugee Convention 1951 and 1967 protocol as yardsticks for determining refugee status.
• Never deporting asylum seekers to danger.
An alternative to the current Australian deterrent policy would;
1. Address the causes for people becoming refugees. Use our diplomatic, trade and aid muscle to leverage better treatment of persecuted minorities in our region.
2. Work with our regional neighbours currently hosting refugees, to provide Australian aid for safety, support, education and work rights.
3. Support the 2018 UN Global Compact on Refugees. Fund UNHCR to set up more processing centres for those applying for refugee status and visas in our region.
4. Increase our refugee intake.
This policy statement was developed and endorsed by the RAR National Conference in Wodonga on April 8, 2018 and endorsed by RAR branches over the following month.
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