Catholic Mission is a founding member of the End Child Detention Coalition (ECDC) which has been working since 2012 for legislative change to ensure that children seeking asylum are never detained in an immigration detention facility in Australia.
The ECDC currently has 26 organisations who are members bringing with them around 150 staff, 1,200 volunteers and approximately 220,000 supporters across all States and Territories of Australia. The End Child Detention Coalition advocates for the release of children from immigration detention and takes the position that detention is never in the best interests of a child.i Children need freedom to grow, play and learn in an environment free from physical constraints and situations that may include violence and abuse.ii
Australia is also a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time”.iii
The Catholic Church teaches that human life is sacred because we are all created in the image and likeness of God and all people have the right to live a dignified life in their homeland. Tragically, in June 2019 the UN Refugee body advised a new record of 71 million displaced people around the world. War, natural disaster, persecution and discrimination have deprived millions of people of their home, employment, family and homeland. Regardless of a person’s citizenship, visa status or mode of arrival, the human dignity and human rights of people seeking asylum must be respected. Many people seeking asylum are already survivors of crimes, torture and trauma and indefinite detention adds further stress and suffering and may impact mental and physical health.
We are also taught that the most vulnerable people are not simply those who are in a needy situation to whom we kindly offer an act of solidarity but are members of our family with whom we have a duty to share the resources we have. All people have a right to be welcomed as part of a community. Jesus even identifies himself as a stranger to be welcomed, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35).iv