Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (ACLRI)
Trustees of the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (ABN 92 291 126 804)
Incorporated in New South Wales. The Liability of the members is limited
Grant Residency to East Timorese in Australia
The leaders of Australia's religious congregations support the humanitarian plea made today by the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Francis Carroll, urging the Minister for Immigration to exercise his discretionary powers and grant permanent residency to 1800 East Timorese Asylum Seekers who have been in Australia for at least eight years.
In his letter to the Hon Philip Ruddock MP, Archbishop Carroll states how the East Timorese group arrived in Australia from 1992 onwards, at a time when East Timor was rent by violence and intimidation.
"Since that time they have lived in uncertainty, waiting for a decision (on their refugee status). They now fear deportation", writes the Archbishop, who proposes a special visa category be formed that would allow East Timorese in Australia the right of permanent residence "if they so desire."
Reasons cited by Archbishop Carroll for allowing the group to remain in Australia include their integration in the Australian community, where they have worked hard to support themselves and start a new life; their contributions as peaceful, faithful and law-abiding people; their Australian- educated children, many of whom have started their own families and acquired work in fields that do not exist in East Timor; and the continuing impoverishment of East Timor and its people.
ACLRI Executive Director, Sr Mary Cresp rsj, speaking on behalf of Catholic and Anglican religious congregations, reiterated the strong bonds that had been forged between the expatriate East Timorese and Australia's religious communities. "We religious women and men admire their courage and their contributions to local church and community life," she said.
"The resilience, faith and optimism the expatriates have shown since the 1975 invasion of their country is matched only by their patience in submitting and resubmitting their applications for Australian residency. We pray that the anxieties they feel today may be removed by the federal government's granting them permanent residency status."
Media Inquiries -
Sr Mary Cresp rsj ph 02 9557 26 95; 0419 961 32 79