On Monday evening, 16 April 2018, the Social Justice Commission of Holy Spirit Parish, St Clair held a Table Talk focusing on the plight of asylum seekers and refugees.
We joined the year long journey of the Diocese of Parramatta walking with refugees and people seeking protection. About 35 people attended the session, hearing from an Iranian man who is an asylum seeker and a Syrian woman who is a refugee who arrived on a humanitarian visa. We heard the stories of their lives and the reasons for leaving their homelands.
Both had experienced frightening situations, one in a refugee camp and the other having arrived by boat after fleeing across borders in fear for his life.
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The stories gave us food for thought and time to reflect on the plight of people escaping persecution and war in their homeland. Their courage and inner strength is amazing, I’m sure we all wondered how we would manage if we found ourselves in similar circumstances.
We then heard from a Case Worker from The House of Welcome. We were told about the difficulties encountered when the government continually changes the legislation. We were most distressed to hear that some legislation has be changed retrospectively, leaving some people with few or no legal rights.
The conversation in the small groups of parishioners was vigorous. For some it is the first time they have heard the facts about asylum seekers and refugees. Others were distressed or dismayed by our governments hard-hearted attitude and complex systems that make life very difficult for people who are already traumatised when they arrive here. At our next social justice commission meeting we will discuss what actions can be taken by the parish from the evening, to support our vulnerable new arrivals.
Our thanks go to the Diocesan Social Justice Office and to Chantelle from the Sydney Alliance who facilitated the evening and to our parishioners who facilitated small groups and assisted. Also, a big thank you to those who attended from other parishes including Greystanes, Fairfield and Penrith.
For more information please contact the Diocese of Parramatta Social Justice Office on 02 8838 3458.