The National Week of Solidarity takes place place from 6 to 12 September 2020 and coincides this year with National Child Protection Week. This year’s theme is No Child Left Behind and gives us an opportunity to campaign around the country, to pray and be involved in coordinated direct action asking for fair treatment and support for people seeking asylum and their children.
Jesuit Social Services has joined Jesuit Refugee Service and the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) to encourage schools to organise and hold a range of activities to stand in solidarity for people seeking asylum and their children with a focus on raising awareness of the #NoChildLeftBehind campaign. People seeking asylum, their families and children must receive the support they need during these trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has impacted everyone in the community. The impact is particularly difficult for people seeking asylum. There are currently around 16,000 children and young people seeking asylum in Australia. Many of these people have experienced job losses, are ineligible for government income support or Medicare, affecting access to basic needs such as housing, health care and food.
The unstable situation of people seeking asylum and their children in Australia has been intensified by COVID-19. All children need to feel safe and loved, have their voices heard and have access to essentials such as food, education, financial support, housing, and healthcare. During this pandemic, access to digital means of communicating has also become important and needs to be placed at the forefront of our agenda.
Many charities in Australia that support asylum seekers are incredibly stretched as they have been faced with substantial increases in demand from asylum seekers who require urgent help.
Compassion for the stranger who has fallen on hard times is at the heart of Jesus’ life and message. Pope Francis has made care for people seeking asylum central for the Catholic community. He has visited camps, begged for refugees to be given a home and prayed at places where they have suffered. We hope as a Catholic community to be united in this kind of compassion.
Let’s all advocate for positive change, stand in solidarity and call on the Federal Government to extend the full range of support measures for people seeking asylum and their children, especially given the extra impact of COVID 19.