The recent Springwood Community Conversation with Refugees drew more than 180 locals to discuss the important issue.
The event was organised as part of a wider initiative launched by the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, which is seeing events such as these hosted by churches throughout the diocese.
In Springwood, it was run as an ecumenical event, including members of many local churches with the support of CatholicCare Social Services and the Sydney Alliance.
“It was run as an inter-church gathering of people wanting to know more about refugees, people seeking asylum, and the current situation in Australia,” CatholicCare Springwood Centre Coordinator Celia Vagg said.
Feedback from participants highlighted the great value in hearing directly from refugees and learning about real situations of people seeking asylum. These are voices not often heard.
Participants expressed hope for an open, generous and welcoming approach, particularly in the Blue Mountains.
It was noted that there are many like-minded people in the Springwood community who have compassion for people seeking safety in Australia and want to see human rights respected in a fair and transparent system.
Many who attended the conversation felt empowered because they had learned more about the refugee issue and felt better equipped to act in an informed manner in the community. There was concern expressed about the current processing system along with a strong desire to uphold values of decency and respect in the treatment of refugees.
Some who attended are continuing to explore avenues to help current or future refugees to enjoy calling the Blue Mountains community home.
Further collaboration between mountains churches on this issue is planned to continue as well as more “Community Conversations with Refugees” in other towns.