Church colloquium challenges Australia to find better solutions for migrants and refugees

Photo by Casamento photography

Photo by Casamento photography

Media Release
26 August, 2013

Former Holy See Ambassador Tim Fischer, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Paul Gallagher and Bishop Gerard Hanna addressed a crowd of over 100 people at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) Melbourne on Thursday 22 August about the pressing issues of migration and poverty.

The colloquium was held to honour Bishop Joe Grech, who was a steadfast supporter of migrants and refugees until his untimely death in 2010.

With a particular focus on the Catholic Church’s commitment to refugees and asylum seekers, each speaker brought his own personal experience to bear in their addresses.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gallagher, focused on his diplomatic experience emphasising the need for a realistic, compassionate approach.

Archbishop Gallagher at migration colloquium. Photo by Casamento Photography

Archbishop Gallagher at migration colloquium. Photo by Casamento Photography

“I think that it is clear that the phenomenon (of irregular migration) cannot be eradicated. Refugees and migrants of all categories, like the poor, we will have with us always (cfr. Mt 26:11) and there will always be those whose circumstances are highly irregular. We must seek durable solutions, but we should not be scandalised if we do not find them. The ethical foundation of our response is in the authenticity and integrity of the response itself”, he said.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer noted the importance of education and employment opportunities in raising living standards of migrants and refugees from poorer nations.

“Firstly, we should never forget the power of education to lift the standards of living of migrants and indeed people right around the world be they in Bhutan or Botswana or beyond.”

Bishop Gerard Hanna spoke on the pressures facing developing countries who accept much larger refugee numbers than Australia.

“We ask our neighbours, poor third world countries, to do what we, a very rich first world nation, are selfishly unwilling to do ourselves. We must open our hearts to refugees, listen to their hopes and welcome them into our communities. Solutions must be based in the real world and address the real needs of people”, he said.

Tim Fischer at migration colloquium. Photo by Casamento Photography

Tim Fischer at migration colloquium. Photo by Casamento Photography

The speakers all showed deep concern with developing viable solutions and better policy around the issue of asylum seekers and refugees. Rather than focusing on partisan polics, the speakers looked at the human face of migration, and examined ethical solutions in their addresses.

A video will be made available of the colloquium in the coming weeks and photos can be ordered from the following link:

For media enquiries, please contact Beth Doherty on 0407 081 256 or Joe Moloney on (02) 62019895