Asylum seekers should be detained no longer than a month and only on Australian soil, the Archbishop of Adelaide said in a recent media release.
Convenor of the Anglican Church’s National Refugee and Migrant Working Group, Archbishop Jeffrey Driver said that barring exceptional circumstances, asylum seekers should be released in Australian society within a month of their arrival.
“Detention for management of health, identity and security risks should be limited to a period of one month and should never be punitive,” the Archbishop said.
“The length and uncertainties within our present process causes enormous stress to already traumatised people.”
Archbishop Driver said that Australia should also consider using less stringent detention measures, and pointed to New Zealand’s system as an example of one that could be used in Australia.
"Not all countries use a detention process and many have processes that are much quicker and more humane than that employed in Australia.” “In our region, for instance, New Zealand provides an alternative model to long term detention. There, people are kept in an open re-settlement centre and given an orientation period.”
The Anglican Church’s National Refugee and Migrant Working Group has questioned whether the human rights of refugees will be upheld under the new agreement with the Malaysian Government to process refugees in that country.
In its latest media release, it stated:
“Once refugees have touched Australian territory, whether land or sea, they come under Australian jurisdiction through the UN Refugee Convention and have a series of acquired rights that bind Australia even if it wishes to then transfer them to another state. These include duties of non-discrimination and access to the courts, rights to education, the right to family reunification, and freedom from arbitrary detention. None of those rights seems guaranteed under the currently proposed agreement with Malaysia.”
The Working Group said that offshore processing contributed to the “politicisation of refugees” and promoted an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude.
“An “out of sight out of mind” approach to the processing of asylum seekers betrays the generosity and compassion of the Australian people and their history of extending hospitality to refugees and migrants.”
“This disconnection reinforces the negative myths and fears that surround these issues while further traumatising vulnerable people.”