Catholic Church, community church ‘deeply concerned’ over church’s response to asylum seeker claims

THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN WOODS, NSW has received “deeply concerning” emails and phone calls from members of the public, which include “some who are in a very vulnerable situation”, it has said.

The church, in the south-east of the state, was “deepally concerned” at what it saw as a “disgraceful” reaction by the Victorian Government to asylum seekers and refugees who had sought protection in the community.

“We are deeply concerned about the way the response of the Victorian government has been handled, and we have asked that you respond as quickly as possible,” the Anglican Church of NSW said in a statement on Sunday.

It was unclear whether the email and phone call from members were linked to a protest against the government’s response at a local community church, the Woodlands Catholic Church in Prahran.

More than 300 asylum seekers have arrived in the town since the start of September, mostly by boat, after arriving in the Australian outback.

A spokesperson for the Anglicans of NSW confirmed that the emails and calls were received by the church, but did not say how the information was shared with the church.

In a statement, the church said it would have no further comment on the matter.

While asylum seekers were welcomed to the community, they were not treated in a “humanitarian way”.

The Anglican church is part of the Anglicanism umbrella, which includes the Churches of Australia, Canterbury, and the Church of England.

Members of the church are now working with a local advocacy group to identify and resolve issues, it said.

“The church has had to take a lot of time and resources to deal with the response, so we want to be able to address this situation as quickly and comprehensively as possible.”

Our hope is that you will be able quickly to share information about the situation and how we are working with the community to help resolve the issue.

“A letter sent to asylum-seekers seeking accommodation in the Woodland Catholic Church last week said: “We have received a number of calls from people who are concerned about their safety, wellbeing, and are in desperate need of assistance and protection.

“We understand the distress this situation has caused and are deeply distressed by the current situation in our community.”

The letter, dated March 1, said it was the church’s intention to “continue to engage with the government to support those who have reached Australia seeking asylum”.

“The Anglicans have made clear to the Australian Government that we will work with them and will do everything we can to ensure that this crisis is not repeated in the future,” it read.

ABC/ReutersTopics:immigration,state-parliament,government-and-politics,state,government,southeast-australia,austra-2182Contact Peter McNaught