Catholic Church welcomes faster and fairer refugee assessment process

11/01/2011

The Catholic Church has welcomed the announcement by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on changes which would make the assessment process for refugees and asylum seekers faster and fairer.

A more efficient and streamlined process would ensure refugee claims are assessed without excess amounts of time spent in detention, while maintaining a rigorous assessment of each claim.

Bishop Eugene Hurley of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life said that the changes are an important step toward achieving fairer outcomes for those seeking asylum in Australia.

"The announcement by the Minister resulting from the High Court decision last November represents a new era of justice for refugees which was sorely needed," Bishop Hurley said.

"It seems that these changes, if implemented well, will ensure the integrity of procedural fairness will be upheld."

Upholding human dignity

Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) Fr Maurizio Pettena CS sees the new changes as an opportunity to move closer towards onshore processing of claims which would ensure access to the Courts is met with sufficient access to legal representation.

"Offshore detention should be a policy choice of last resort due to the negative impacts on the mental health of refugees. The majority of refugees arrive in a state of trauma which is often escalated by the isolation of detention and the uncertainty of not knowing if and when their claim for protection will be processed," Fr Pettena said.

The Church hopes that this newly announced position which was made in response to last year’s High Court decision will be one which respects and upholds the human dignity of those seeking safety in this country.


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