Asylum Seeker & Refugee Issues – Discussion & Prayer Resources

Refugee Week LogoThere have been a number of requests lately for resources to help people understand and discuss issues related to people seeking asylum and refugees in Australia.

In particular there have been a number of people asking questions about Australia’s responses to people arriving by boat and our various political party’s policies on the matter and also how the Uniting Church and other organisations are responding to these issues.

What follows is a collection of articles and resources to help people engage with these issues.

Articles, Resources and Media Releases by the Uniting Church on Asylum Seeker and Refugee Issues:

A Lamentable Lack of Compassion – Article and Liturgy

On Saturday 3 August more than 250 Uniting Church members from across Sydney gathered for a sombre hour-long service of lament at Australia’s harsh policies against asylum seekers.

The Moderator of the NSW/ACT Synod Rev. Dr Brian Brown opened the service at Pitt Street Uniting Church by expressing deep concern for the well-being of those fleeing danger and oppression.

“We are here to lament their dire plight, especially that, having experienced deep pain and loss at the beginning of their journeys, they are now facing rejection and utter hardship as well at the end of their search for freedom and security,” said Rev. Dr Brown.

Link to Article: A Lamentable Lack of Compassion

Link: Liturgy of the Service of Lament

What would Bonhoeffer do about asylum seekers, Mr Rudd? by Andrew Dutney, President of the UCA

Hoisted on his own petard – that phrase has kept coming to mind as I’ve followed the announcement, explanation and implementation of the so-called “PNG Solution.” Link

Speaking Truth to Power about Asylum Seekers

National Director of UnitingJustice Australia, Rev. Elenie Poulos, and members of the Uniting Church who work with asylum seekers, have spoken out during a Federal Government caucus meeting in the Sydney suburb of Balmain. Link

Gross failure of compassion on asylum seekers

The Uniting Church in Australia has expressed its deep concern over the latest round of policy amendments designed to punish asylum seekers arriving by boat. Link

Regional Resettlement Arrangement Fact Sheet

On Friday 19th July 2013, the governments of Australia & Papua New Guinea signed a Regional Resettlement Arrangement (RRA).

This new agreement covers all asylum seekers – men, women and children – who arrive in Australian waters by boat.

We do not want any asylum seekers to lose their lives on the journey by boat to Australia. However this “solution” is devoid of compassion, morally bankrupt and legally questionable. There are better ways.

This fact sheet is the first of a series we will be producing as more details of the policy changes and their impact on asylum seekers become clear. Link

Refugee Week 2012 – Restoring Hope

A resource prepared by UnitingJustice Australia for Refugee Week 2012

All over the world, people gather every year to mark Refugee Week. The theme for 2012 is Restoring Hope. It reminds us that the journey asylum seekers take is driven by hope: hope for a life without conflict, without fear, without torture and persecution. Link

When it comes to asylum seeker politics, love must drive out fear by Elenie Poulos

When Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that Australia would not process or resettle any asylum seekers who arrive in Australian territory by boat, our coddled, massaged and well-fed fear of asylum seekers found what turned out to be its penultimate conclusion. One can only pray that we can’t sink any further into the abyss on this matter than the Coalition’s shockingly misnamed “Operation Sovereign Borders.” Link

Groups (Church & Other) Engaged in Discussion, Dialogue & Action on Asylum Seeker and Refugee Issues:

Uniting Justice Australia

UnitingJustice Australia is the justice unit of the National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia, pursuing national matters of social and economic justice, human rights, peace and the environment.

It sits within the mandate of Uniting Faith and Discipleship and works in collaboration with other Assembly agencies, Uniting Church synod justice staff around the country, and with other community and faith-based organisations and groups.

It engages in advocacy and education and works collaboratively to communicate the Church’s vision for a reconciled world. It provides resources for the Church as it considers its position on issues of national and international importance and public policy.

UnitingJustice Australia exists as an expression of the Uniting Church’s commitment to working toward a just and peaceful world. This commitment arises from the Christian belief that liberation from oppression and injustice is central to the incarnation of God through Jesus Christ.

Link: Uniting Justice Australia Refugee & Asylum Seeker Resources

The Australian Church Refugee Taskforce

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce has been established
to promote a shared Christian vision of compassion and hospitality
for asylum seekers and refugees. The churches and their agencies
work together to advocate for just and humane policies.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre was established to provide support and advice for those seeking asylum in Australia.

The ASRC recognises the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. It is the vision of the ASRC to enact the change we want to see in the world and to build a community which defends the ideals of dignity and justice for all. As part of this vision, the ASRC does not turn away anyone who has suffered persecution and who seeks protection. Through Aid, Justice, Empowerment and Community, the Centre works towards this vision. These, then, are the four pillars of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Amnesty International – Rethink Refugees

Let’s reject the myths and think again about asylum seekers and refugees. Join the conversation

 Welcome To Australia

Welcome to Australia exists to engage everyday Australians in the task of cultivating a culture of welcome in our nation. The Australia we love is known for its diversity, compassion, generosity and commitment to giving all people a fair go. We’d like to find many different ways that individuals, families, businesses and other organisations can work together to continue to develop these values in our communities, work places, schools and institutions.

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Commission seeks to ensure that the human rights of all people held in immigration detention in Australia are protected. The Commission has focused its recent immigration detention work on the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and children, because they have specific vulnerabilities and are given special protections under international law.

Resources on Asylum Seeker and Refugee Issues:

A Just Society – Federal Election 2013 Resource

In the Statement to the Nation made by the first Assembly in 1977, the Uniting Church in Australia recognised that Christian responsibility to society is fundamental to the mission of the Church. It promised that the Uniting Church response to the Christian gospel would always involve us in social and national affairs.

A Just Society: your faith, your voice, your vote is an expression of our faith as Christians and citizens of this country, and our commitment to share with all Australians in the search for meaning, purpose and community in life.

This resource is an invitation to consider your vote in the 2013 Federal Election in terms of what we need to do, as individuals and as a nation, to ensure a just society – one that is focussed on the good of all people and the planet, now and into the future. We hope that you will find it a helpful resource as you consider the values which underpin the policies of the political parties and candidates who are asking us to give them the responsibility of national leadership.

It is not the intention to lead you to any particular conclusion about whom you should or should not vote for. It does not ‘rate’ the policy platforms of political parties. It seeks to explore the implications of the gospel for aspects of Australia’s national life. It contains material to help Church members identify important issues facing Australia, listen to politicians and political parties with discernment, and cast an informed vote.

Asylum Seeker Facts and Myths from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (pdf)

A great document spelling out very briefly some facts and figures on issues of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australia by the ASRC

A Regional Refugee Protection Framework (2010) (pdf)

A joint statement by Australian non-government organisations Australia’s 2010 Federal election campaign has heightened an already intense national debate about the role of Australia and its neighbours in responding to the humanitarian and political challenges posed by the large numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people within the Asia-Pacific region. In considering the various options being proposed, it is important to note that these are international challenges which cannot be resolved by any country acting unilaterally. There is no singular or simple “solution” available because there is no singular or simple problem. There is no quick or permanent fix to the issue of people suffering human rights abuses. However, of the responses required, the single most critical element must be the development of an effective and sustainable regional protection framework for refugees and asylum seekers.

Stories From welcome To Australia

We’d love to increase the understanding Australians have of the experiences and history of asylum seekers, refugees and other new arrivals. Authentic friendships begin with a genuine welcome and are deepened through greater appreciation of the stories of those we befriend. Please share your story of why you came to Australia, how you were welcomed, and what life is like for you today.

Refugee Factsheets from SBS Go Back To Where You Came From 

There are many myths and misconceptions about asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. Are they illegal immigrants or queue jumpers? Do they receive extra social security benefits? The following factsheets offer some insights into some of the issues that are central to the public debate about immigration, refugees and asylum seekers.

Refugee Week Australia Resource Kit

The Resource Kit is designed to help event organisers and teachers prepare for Refugee Week. Click on the links below to download each section.

    • Background information on refugees: a brief introduction to refugees and refugee issues including definitions, basic facts and figures and a rundown of Australia’s refugee program.
    • What is Refugee Week?: background information about the event.
    • Planning an event for Refugee Week: a detailed guide on event planning, including event ideas, tips for getting media coverage of your event, guidelines for working with people from refugee backgrounds and advice on evaluating the success of your event.
    • Myths and facts about refugees and asylum seekers: this chapter highlights some of the common myths about refugees and asylum seekers and aims to correct the record for people seeking accurate information about issues relating to refugees and asylum seekers.
    • Teacher resources: lesson plans, links to interesting websites with games and information specifically designed for kids, and ideas on how you can bring Refugee Week to your school.
    • Useful websites and refugee-related resources: links to key websites with refugee information packs as well as an extensive list of books, documentaries, films and online games focusing on refugee-related issues.

Asylum Seeker Resource Pack (Church of Christ)

This Resource Pack contains a number of responses to recent Asylum Seeker policy announcements. The resources are being distributed for the purposes of conversation and discernment of Churches and Agencies affiliated with, and People in Ministry within, CCVT. It includes a Statement from the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, an initiative supported by the National Council of Churches in Australia; the Council of Churches of Christ in Australia (and therefore CCVT) is a member church of the NCCA, and supports this Statement. Link

Acting From The Heart, Australian Advocates For Asylum Seekers Tell Their Stories by Sarah Mares & Louise Newman

What motivated thousands of ordinary Australians to become involved in supporting the plight of asylum seekers and to oppose their government’s immigration policy and practice?

In Acting from the Heart over 50 people, who reflect the diversity of this movement, tell their stories in a disturbing and uplifting record of this political time in Australian society.

Link: Purchase Acting From The Heart

Selection of Newspaper Articles on Asylum Seeker and Refugee Issues:

Prayer & Liturgy Resources:

Contribute meaningfully to the public conversation

This inspirational study guide, prepared by The Reverend Gillian Moses, is designed to assist parish and other groups to explore asylum-seeker and refugee related issues in depth and through focused engagement with relevant scriptures. Each session of this study guide is designed to help groups engage with a critical issue concerning refugees and asylum seekers from a Christian perspective.

Protecting the Persecuted: Justice for asylum seekers and refugees

In the Hebrew Scriptures God is often identified as the God who cares for the exiled and the stranger. God brings justice to the oppressed and calls on the people of faith to care for the strangers and aliens in their midst as they care for each other. Refugees are identified in the Bible with widows and orphans as the most marginalised people, the most at risk, and the test of faithful obedience to God was how a community or individuals cared for these most vulnerable people. Hospitality to the stranger therefore became one of the strongest moral forces in ancient Israel. To read on, download this document.

Justice for Asylum Seekers: A Call to Prayer

In 2000, the Ninth Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia expressed our commitment to seek “fair, humanitarian, adequately resourced and culturally appropriate government policies and procedures for the processing of refugees and asylum seekers”.

Justice for Asylum Seekers: Prayer Resources

This is the full suite of prayer and worship materials to accompany the UnitingJustice resource, Justice for Asylum Seekers: A Call to Prayer.

The resource kit, containing a message from UCA President, Rev. Prof. Andrew Dutney, and information resources on asylum seekers and refugees is in PDF format.

Television, Documentaries & Movies:

Go Back To Where You Came From (SBS TV) Series 1

Six ordinary Australians agree to challenge their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers by embarking on a confronting 25-day journey.

Tracing in reverse the journeys that refugees have taken to reach Australia, they travel to some of the most dangerous and desperate corners of the world, with no idea of what’s in store for them along the way.

Deprived of their wallets, phones and passports, they board a leaky refugee boat, are rescued mid-ocean, experience immigration raids in Malaysia, live in a Kenyan refugee camp and visit slums in Jordan before ultimately making it to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq, protected by UN Peacekeepers and the US military. For some of them it’s their first time abroad. For all of them, it’s an epic journey and the most challenging experience of their lives.


Go Back To Where You Came From (SBS TV) Series 2

Six prominent faces from Australian politics, television and radio, some with outspoken views on refugees and asylum seekers and others with a connection to the debate, are set to get the nation talking when they feature in the second instalment of Go Back to Where You Came From.

Over three episodes, the six Australians will face mortal danger on the streets of the world’s deadliest cities – from the sweltering, war torn capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, to the riotous streets of Kabul, freezing amidst the mountains of Afghanistan. They will travel directly into the eye of a storm – inside the walls of Christmas Island Detention Centre. It’s intense, shocking, and one of the most challenging experiences of their lives.


Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea

When she was 9, Zainab’s parents made the heartbreaking decision to leave their home in northern Afghanistan. They set out on a journey across the globe, putting the fate of their family in the hands of strangers.

Across borders, behind bars and onto a smuggler’s boat – the family chased freedom.

‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ tells Zainab’s story, and the story of many others who have trodden the same path.

Jessie Taylor and Ali Reza Sadiqi travelled across Indonesia and met with 250 asylum seekers in jails, detention centres and hostels. Through candid interviews, hidden camera footage and in the words of asylum seekers themselves, the story of the ‘refugee’ is told. What pushes people to leave home? What do they leave behind? What do they fear? Why did they choose this path? And what does it take to turn someone into a ‘boat person’?

Meet the human faces behind the most controversial issue of our time.

Purchase the film as a Digital Download or as a DVD, if you’re in the Riverina Presbytery of the UCA we have a couple of the dvds that Darren and/or Holly can come and watch with your congregation or bible study group and help with running a dialogue afterwards (a small fee would incur so as to send money to the distributor & makers of the film)


Mary Meets Mohammad (Independent Documentary)

This film follows the arrival of Tasmania’s first detention centre through the eyes of local Christian woman and knitting club member Mary and Muslim Afghan Hazara asylum seeker Mohammad, who is detained inside the centre, as they connect through the gift of a knitted beanie.


Children’s Books:

Emmaline Rabbit


Link: Download The Entire Book – Emmaline Rabbit (pdf)

Link: Teacher’s notes from the Salvation Army on Emmaline Rabbit & Refugee & Asylum Seekers  (pdf)

A True Person by Gabiann Marin & Jacqui Grantford

Link: A True Person – Teacher’s Notes

Link: A True Person – Publisher’s site

Ships in the Field by Susanne Gervay & Anna Pignataro

Link: Ships In The Fiels – Teacher’s Notes

Link: Ships in the Field – Publisher’s site

The Little Refugee by Anh Do & Bruce Whatley

Link: The Little Refugee – Teacher’s Notes

Link: The Little Refugee – Publisher’s site

Other Resources:

Let Them All Come by First Dog On The Moon


If I Were A Refugee by Michael Leunig

If I Were A Refugee

If I were a refugee
What a nice one I would be.
Not in need of gliding.
My traumas would be character building.

The wars that overturned my life;
Atrocities and endless strife
And persecution hateful,
Would have taught me to be grateful.

I’d have no breaking point at all.
Lock me up against the wall
And I would sit and wait
And smile and say “no worries mate”.

Compassion by Michael Leunig


 Paul Kelly – Emotional



The days are getting colder
They stretch before me all in a line
Each night gets a little bit longer
And these stars that once were strange now I call mine
Oh, it’s been so long since I saw her face
And I just can’t find my way out of this place
I took the law into my hands
You’d do the same from where I stand
But the punishment here is much worse than the crime
I guess I get a little emotional sometimes

Each night I light a candle
And I get down on my knees and I pray
My home in ashes I can handle
But not to see my loved ones losing their way
If my tongue sounds lame please don’t turn away
Don’t you see I’m losing it a little bit every day
If you let yourself understand
I’ll give you my heart and hands
Or else the punishment will be much worse than the crime
I know I get a little emotional sometimes
Do you blame me if I get a little emotional sometimes?
Don’t act so surprised if I get a little emotional sometimes

Article by Darren Wright: Emotional by Paul Kelly – Empires Fear Songs, Books & Prophets

Paul Kelly gets emotional about the Baktiyari boys (The Age)



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