The issue of refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia tends to give rise to strong feelings. There are arguments for strong borders and the need to discourage the evil of people trafficking; while others argue for the ideals of a diverse, compassionate society – a fair go for all who come across the seas.
What is often missing from these debates are the authentic voices of the individuals whose lives and futures are at stake.
In the up-coming Springwood Community Conversation, locals can hear the testimonies of refugees and asylum seekers – along with the evidence of a refugee expert. Attendees will have the opportunity to have discussion in small groups, with the opportunity to explore their own questions and concerns.
The event will be held in the Presbyterian Church Hall, 160 Macquarie Rd Springwood. Attendees can RSVP to attend a session on either Saturday 23 February at 3.45pm or Sunday 24 February at 1.15pm.
The aims of the event are to share first-hand information about the authentic experience of refugees and people seeking asylum, dialogue with an expert working in the field who can answer questions; and consider what we as a community can do to positively impact the welfare of people seeking refuge and asylum in Australia.
This event is hosted by a collaboration of groups, including the local churches in Springwood, the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group (BMRSG) and BMRSG and Sydney Alliance.
The initiative is part of a wider program launched late last year by Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta.
At the launch, Bishop Long, a former Vietnamese “boatperson”, observed that: “In a generation we have gone from the universally admired, generous, hospitable, daring, courageous country to one of the most pilloried nations in terms of our policy towards asylum seekers.”
The local organisers of this event believe this question deserves a searching response in thought and action. They encourage people with diverse opinions on these matters to attend and to share their insights and points of view. Afternoon tea will be served.
For more information and to RSVP call Springwood Drop-In Centre on 02 4751 4956 or register at www.tiny.cc/swood