Positive Steps in Immigration System

17 June 2005

The Uniting Church today expressed its gratitude to Petro Georgiou, Judi Moylan, Bruce Baird and Russell Broadbent for their courage and persistence, and their unfailing commitment to improving the lives of some of Australia's most vulnerable people.

The President of the Uniting Church, the Rev. Dr Drayton, said the Uniting Church has long held concerns about the devastating effects of Australia's immigration policy on asylum seekers and refugees.

"We have watched in horror as people's lives are torn apart by mandatory detention and temporary protection.

"Today's outcome is a very big step forward on the way to recovering our national sense of compassion and decency," Rev. Drayton said.

"The Prime Minister has agreed to major and significant changes to the administration of the system of mandatory detention, the processing of asylum seekers, and the temporary protection visa regime. The changes go a long way to improving the accountability and transparency of a previously inscrutable system.

"The events of the last few weeks are an important reminder that democracy only functions when people are willing to challenge what they believe is wrong.

"We congratulate the Prime Minister for changing a system that was doing untold damage to people. The Uniting Church will continue to support asylum seekers and refugees in their search for dignity and security. We believe there is still more to do to ensure such an outcome and we look forward to working with the Government to further improve the system," he said.