Bishop says bills signify welcome change to detention policy

Changes to the Migration Act proposed in two Private Member's Bills represent a compassionate and welcome change to Australia's detention policy and deserve the support of all MPs, Bishop Joseph Grech said on Friday.

Bishop Grech, Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Migrants and Refugees, congratulated the Member for Kooyong, Petro Georgiou for intending to place the Bills before parliament.

He welcomed the publicly stated support for the bills from other members of the government, including Judi Moylan and Bruce Baird and called for MPs from all sides of politics to vote in their favour.

"These bills reflect the groundswell of public support for a more compassionate immigration detention system," he said. "More and more Australians are becoming increasingly disturbed about people, including some children, being held for long periods of time in detention."

Bishop Grech said the proposal to release detainees into the community after 12 months, was particularly welcome, as was the appointment of a Judicial Assessor to examine individual cases.

"We are also delighted to see a proposal to release children, their parents and siblings from detention pending determination of their applications for asylum," he said. "The Catholic Church has long argued for a system which detains people only for as long as it takes to complete appropriate health and identity checks, a principle which is reflected in these bills."

Bishop Grech said the proposed changes provided the appropriate checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the immigration system while at the same time respecting the human dignity of those whose claims are being assessed.

"Australians are calling out with increasing urgency for a more compassionate detention system and these bills, if supported in the parliament, will go a long way towards achieving such an outcome," he said.

Immigration bills signify a welcome change to detention policy - Catholic Bishop (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 27/5/05)

Bakhtiyaris back on home soil (Herald-Sun 30/5/05)
Priest writes to Vanstone over Baxter (The Age/Australian Associated Press 28/5/05)
Justice Committee Of Catholic Religious Congregations Applauds Detention Reform Proposals (Social Action Committee, Conference of Leaders of Religious Congregations in Victoria 27/5/05)
Concerns about treatment of women detainees in Baxter (ABC Radio AM 28/5/05)
Priest lobbies for privacy for detained women (ABC News 28/5/05)
Costello asks MPs to fight detention (The Advertiser 30/5/05)
Oh, the bog Vanstone's in (The Age 29/5/05)
Howard may ease detainee visa rules (The Age 30/5/05)
Out of sight, out of mind: Homeless refugees hidden in jam-packed houses (The Southern Cross, June 2005)

30 May 2005