As the Australian federal election approaches, and issues concerning asylum seekers and refugees gain prominence, the Asylum Seeker Centre has released its Pre-Election Statement.

Here are some highlights from the Asylum Seekers Centre Pre-Election Statement.

  • Refugees and asylum seekers should be treated with dignity and humanity. They should be welcomed when they arrive. They should not be referred to using dehumanising and misleading terms.

  • All asylum seekers should be treated equally and fairly, irrespective of how they arrived. Detention, offshore processing, delayed processing, and merely temporary protection for one group – boat arrivals – is arbitrary and unfair because there are many asylum seekers for whom it is simply not possible to board a plane.

  • A broadly-based regional arrangement for processing and settling refugees should be pursued with vigour. All of the key players in the region need to be involved in these discussions.

  • There should be no presumption that people from a particular country (such as Iran or Sri Lanka) are not genuine refugees. Australia has a sophisticated system for assessing refugee claims that is overseen by the Refugee Review Tribunal and the courts. All asylum seekers should be entitled to have their claims tested through this system and should not be deported before being given the opportunity to do so.

  • Detention is unhealthy and degrading. Any period in detention should be limited to no longer than the time it takes to perform health, identity and security checks.

  • Doors should be open for asylum seekers waiting in the community for their claims to be assessed. They should have the dignity of being entitled to seek work, and should have access to accommodation, health and education.

Anonymous client at ASC

Anonymous client at ASC

The full statement is available on the Asylum Seekers Centre of Australia website.

OHO has supported the Asylum Seekers Centre of NSW (ASC) since 2005 and has expanded its support of asylum seekers via its partnership with World Wellness Group this year.

ASC is a non-profit organisation providing a safe and dignified environment for asylum seekers to live in while they wait for their claims to be processed. OHO has been assisting the Centre with the provision of basic healthcare services and treatments.