Archbishop Denis Hart has shown true leadership in calling on the Australian Government to bring the men, women and children on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia, says Jesuit Social Services.

“Many people in the Catholic Church have denounced the country’s offshore detention regime and punitive policies towards people seeking asylum, and Archbishop Hart has demonstrated leadership in calling for the people in detention on Nauru and Manus Island to be brought to Australia,” says Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards.

Archbishop Hart’s call follows the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child indictment of Australia’s failure to help children held in detention-like conditions.

The UN also determined that there is a “high likelihood” of people seeking asylum and refugees on Manus Island and Nauru attempting suicide, and that mental illness is exacerbated by the poor living conditions and uncertainty faced by people in offshore detention.

“Australia has a legal and moral obligation to provide protection and care for people who are seeking asylum in our country but we know that more than 1,000 vulnerable people stuck in limbo in Australian-funded detention centres have been exposed to trauma and human rights abuses,” says Ms Edwards.

In 2015, the Australian Bishops’ annual Social Justice Statement was titled For Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas: Justice for Refugees and Asylum Seekers and called on Australians to reconsider our national response to people seeking asylum.

“We support the Australian Bishops and Archbishop Hart’s statement today that Australia’s elected leaders must take immediate action to close offshore detention centres, bring the people in detention to Australia and ensure these vulnerable people’s claims for asylum are processed in a timely manner,” says Ms Edwards.

“Jesuit Social Services is ready and willing to offer our services and support as part of a coordinated response to ensure Australia welcomes these men, women and children with open arms.”

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