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ACMRO News May 2024

Day 1 Discussion Forum Speakers for the Upcoming 7th ACMRO National Conference 2024

In this issue of the newsletter, we are excited to introduce our discussion forum speakers for the first day of the 7th ACMRO National Conference 2024 (Thursday, 18 July). We are blessed to have outstanding and passionate speakers who will share insights on various topics related to migrant workers with a focus on seasonal workers in light of Catholic Social Justice teaching. Additionally, the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, as well as the Community Connections Program directly linked to the seasonal workers, will be discussed. 

(In order of presentation)
Her Excellency Chiara Porro, the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, will share her insights via video message.
Archbishop Christopher Prowse, the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn and Chair of the ACBC Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity, and Ministry, will reflect on the Australian Catholic Church's approach in providing pastoral care support for seasonal workers.
Ms Sue Saunders and Ms Fiona Nitschke, the Assistant Secretary and Director of Worker Support, respectively, of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Delivery Branch, Pacific Labour Operations Division of the Australian Government’s Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR), will both share insights about the PALM scheme program and the positive impact of the program on the lives of the participants, as well as with the local Australian communities.
Mr Peter Arndt, the Director of the ACBC Office for Justice, Ecology, and Peace, will reflect on the Catholic Social Justice teaching regarding migrant workers.
Mr Mark Zirnsak, the Senior Social Justice Advocate, Uniting Church of Australia, and the Community Connections Coordinator for VIC and TAS, will provide insights about the Community Connections Program.
Ms Christine Carolan, the National Executive Officer of the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), will present about ACRATH’s response and experiences regarding migrant workers.
• During the Conference Dinner, Dr James Cockayne, the NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner, will provide insights on how local communities can welcome temporary migrant workers, particularly seasonal workers, and raise awareness about the risks of modern slavery.

Also, conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in small group discussions to share their thoughts and hopes. (Click here for the Conference Program.)

Please visit the ACMRO website to obtain more information and to register.


‘World Refugee Day Ecumenical Prayer Service, Thursday, 20 June, at 7:30pm AEST

World Refugee Week (16–22 June) is approaching. This is an opportune time to renew our commitment to accompany our sisters and brother who are living in desperation. On Thursday, 20 June, at 7:30 p.m. AEST, the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce will hold a World Refugee Day Ecumenical Prayer Service. Join in prayer for everyone who needs hope by registering here.

To learn more about what you can do during World Refugee Week, please click here.

This article is drawn from the ACBC Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace’s post on its website.


Highly Relevant to our Oceania Region: In an Interview with the ‘CBS Evening News’, Pope Francis Describes Climate Change as ‘A Road to Death’ and Chastises ‘Foolish’ Deniers

Among the many diverse and relevant topics, interviewer Norah O’Donnell specifically asked Pope Francis about the topic of climate change during an hour-long broadcast that aired on CBS on Monday, 20 May. The interview was aired in the United States, coinciding with the beginning of Laudato Si' Week, the yearly event organised by the Vatican to commemorate Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical on ecology, “Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home.”

O’Donnell asked the Pope about climate change and his level of concern over the world’s temperatures rising faster than before. Pope Francis, who responded in Spanish and was translated by CBS News, said, “Global warming is a serious problem. Climate change at this moment is a road to death. A road to death, eh? And it is an artificial climate change, no? Something provoked, not the normal climate change, right?”

In our Oceania region, the issue of climate change has a significant impact. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) focuses specifically on displacement and migration caused by climate change from Pacific Island countries to Australia and New Zealand. The ACMRO joined the Oceania episcopal conference offices mandated to minister to migrants and refugees such as Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Desk for Migrants and Refugees for the Catholic Bishops Conference Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBCPNGSI), and the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (CEPAC) General Secretary to address this issue as a core are of their work.

Jason Siwat, the Director of the CBCPNGSI Desk for Migrants and Refugees, observes that “the effects of climate change are now becoming more prominent in many parts of Papua New Guinea. But climate migration, to some extent, is not as common despite the level of threats and displacement it causes to communities. People are really fighting to remain in their homes, despite the threats. There is, however, one particular atoll community on Carteret Island, in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) whose experience of climate change-induced migration is widely recorded as one of the world's first “climate refugees.” Many of them have migrated to resettle in Buka and to mainland Bougainville. About 60–70 percent of the island’s population remains on the island due to a lack of government support to relocate them. On the island, they can no longer grow crops as the sea has eroded much of the land and inundated it with salt. They rely on government rations. The situation is bleak.”

He also pointed out that “those families in the resettlement camps continue to face stiff livelihood challenges, including food security. Women are the ones faced with a lot of stress from providing for their families. When the gardens fail to produce a good yield as a result of bad weather, the families slip further into poverty. Women in the resettlement camps lack the resources and capacity for climate change adaptation. Climate change has also reinforced many social issues in the atoll communities, like increased domestic violence against women as well as abandonment by husbands who migrate to look for work. When a husband leaves, the woman’s responsibilities are doubled, yet her opportunities and access to resources remain extremely restricted.”

Sr Taabeia Ibouri, a Good Samaritan Sister living and ministering in Kiribati, highlights that her country is a vulnerable country in terms of climate change. They are experiencing unimaginable king tides, which lead to increasingly eroded shorelines and contamination of fresh water sources. They also experience consistently high temperatures. One sad message that was shared by one of their elders was, “If relocating happens while I am alive, I won’t leave [sic].”

The first part of this article is drawn from the Earthbeat’s (A project of National Catholic Reporter) post on its website.


The 2024-2025 Federal Budget: What it Means for Refugees and People Seeking Humanitarian Protection

Following Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ release of the federal budget on Tuesday, 14 May, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) provided an insightful summary of what it means for refugees and people seeking humanitarian protection, and here are the salient points:
• The Refugee and Humanitarian Program will remain at 20,000 places in 2024-25 while the Migration Program planning level will be set at 185,000 places.
• Refugee settlement support services will see additional funding of $120.9 million over five years to “improve the sustainability of settlement services and promote better economic and social outcomes for refugees and migrants”.
• The Government has allocated $2.9 million over two years for support for people who have fled the crisis in Gaza and Israel and $1.9 million over five years to extend access to Medicare for Ukrainians on Bridging Visas.
• The Government has allocated $1.0 billion over five years to set up the new merits review system, the Administrative Review Tribunal.
• Less than half of the budget allocation for support for people seeking asylum was spent, even though the need has been growing.
• Allocations for immigration compliance and deterrence measures again far outstrip funding for support and assistance.

“The federal government’s enhanced funding support for refugee settlement services in the 2024–2025 federal budget, along with new initiatives to aid those displaced by the hostilities in Gaza and Ukraine, as well as the allocation of $1.0 billion over five years to establish the new Administrative Review Tribunal, were welcomed by RCOA. However, RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power laments the budget allocation for Asylum Seeker Support Payments: “It’s disappointing to see the allocation for Asylum Seeker Support Payments has been cut from $37 million in last year’s budget to $17.3 million in the 2024-25 budget. It is clear that more work needs to be done to convince the Government to act on community concerns about destitution and homelessness among people in the asylum process.”

You can download the Refugee Council of Australia full budget analysis here.

This article is drawn from the Refugee Council of Australia’s post on its website.

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