FRAN SHEAHAN has volunteered with our Catholic Alliance of People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) initiative since 2015. She chats to fellow volunteer RYAN FONG about advocating for the humane treatment of refugees in Australia.

Fran Sheahan, CAPSA volunteer

Fran Sheahan, CAPSA volunteer for Jesuit Social Services. Image credit: Sez Wilks

Can you describe your volunteer role with CAPSA?

My role at CAPSA involves a range of different tasks from time to time, including developing and maintaining databases of schools, parishes and other Catholic organisations.

For the National Week of Prayer and Action event coordinated by CAPSA, I’ve conducted research, prepared reflective resources and documents, and created artwork for a toolkit, in order to support schools that are involved in the initiative.

What motivated you to volunteer with CAPSA?

I’m a strong proponent for more just and humane treatment of people seeking asylum in Australia. I’m attracted to volunteering with CAPSA because it advocates for their welfare.

Through my contribution to CAPSA, I hope that more people will have a change of attitude towards people seeking asylum and be willing to take action to influence the government’s stance and policy.

What’s been most memorable about volunteering with CAPSA?

My experience of standing in silence with others in support of asylum seekers at last year’s National Week of Prayer and Action event was very special to me.

My heart aches for asylum seekers and refugees who are treated harshly in our country and for the fact that there is not enough compassion for them among the public. However, as I was standing with several hundreds of people in deep silence, I was moved by the palpable compassion.

Seeing people ranging from eight to over 80 years of age take part in this meaningful movement gave me faith that we can influence others to support fairer treatment to people seeking asylum.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking of volunteering with Jesuit Social Services?

Volunteering is a wonderful way to make a contribution to the society, but it also has many benefits for us volunteers.

For me, volunteering with Jesuit Social Services is an experience of joining a vital, compassionate group of people who are not only committed to working for a more just world, but they are also collaborative, competent and thorough in their approach.

As a volunteer at Jesuit Social Services, I feel welcomed and become an integral part of the organisation. I know my contribution is worthwhile and needed: what more could I ask?