|CHURCH: UNFAIR TO PUNISH REFUGEES: CHURCH OFFICE|
Federal Government policy aimed at deterring potential boat people from coming to Australia is penalising those who have established successful claims to refugee status under the Refugee Convention, the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office said.
Media reports claimed the Minister for Immigration, Mr Ruddock, had written to welfare groups asking them to turn away refugees who have been granted three-year temporary protection visas.
More than 1000 refugees from the Woomera Detention Centre in South Australia are expected to be released into the communities of Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane shortly. Fr John Murphy, from the Bishops Committee for Migrants and Refugees in Canberra told The Catholic Weekly: "We feel that it's penalising people who have been accepted as refugees. They are being penalised so that the Government can get its message out overseas - to deter people coming by boat without documentation.
"The message from the Minister," he said, "is that these people should not be helped. Yet these same people have been determined by the refugee tribunal to be refugees. It's the Minister's intention to make Australia as unpalatable as possible to potential refugees."