The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) has been officially launched at the start of World Refugee Week, which runs from June 14 to 20.

Backed by leading Catholic peak organisations and convened by Jesuit Social Services, CAPSA aims to change hearts and minds across Australia in support of the abolition of harsh asylum seeker policies.

The initiative wants to build on work being done in Catholic schools, parishes, and organisations across Australia.

Johanna Burns from Jesuit Social Services says that “as people come together in supporting asylum seekers, their activities will grow and become more effective. Anything each of us does, by collecting food to share with asylum seekers, offering friendship and comfort, helping with housing, or joining others in speaking up for them, will help make a more caring society.”

Marcelle Mogg, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia, says CAPSA’s aim is to build a collective voice. “So many Australians feel powerless in their capacity to influence change in the stance of both political parties, CAPSA provides an opportunity to build a collective voice for change,” she says.

CAPSA’s website has many suggestions of ways for Catholics to take action including collecting food or other material aid for people seeking asylum, volunteering to teach English to people seeking asylum and writing to local MPs to share concerns about the treatment of people seeking asylum in Australia.

Formed out of a project partnership between Jesuit Social Services and Cabrini Health, CAPSA is supported by an advisory group of national Catholic agencies.