Archbishop’s Appeal Update

by Fr. Peter Smith

When Archbishop, Anthony Fisher OP, launched the Archbishop’s Afghan Refugee Appeal last August, we knew there was a desire within our community to help, but we had no idea the response would be so generous and so widespread. Nor did we think we would have such a profound impact on the government’s own decision making.

Eight months after the launch last August we are now able to begin reporting back to you about how those desperately needed funds are being used.  And at a time when the world can seem pretty grim for so many in need, we really appreciate knowing that the Catholic community is always ready to come to their assistance.

Because the commitment was to get the support and the funds to services that directly support Afghan people and families fleeing the collapse of their homeland, one of the first recipients was the wonderful House of Welcome in Granville (HoW); a work of the Franciscan Social Services. Further funds have been sent to The Brigidine Asylum Seekers Network (Vic.) and Jesuit Refugee Services are next on the list; each organisation give direct support to Afghan Refugees. The House of Welcome is the largest housing provider of transitional accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees in NSW and the only asylum seeker specialist agency in Western Sydney. They also run employment programs through their catering social enterprise programs.

The Justice and Peace Office met with Hoorieh Hosseini, one of HoW’s social workers.  We began by asking what difference the funds form the Archbishop’s appeal had made to those who come to HoW from Afghanistan.

“Can you imagine what it was like for families who had fled Afghanistan and come to Australia to find they needed support for life’s basics: for food, rent support and even medicines” said Hoorieh.


“Yes sometimes people have had very critical illnesses and the medicine is not covered by Medicare, so they really need support because these medicines are vital.”

As we all know, renting in Sydney is expensive for those even able to find somewhere to rent. For asylum seekers it is even more complex.

“They need the bond and at least two weeks rent in advance,” said Hoorieh. “So we have many clients at risk of homelessness because their rent is soon in arrears. This money means we can give them the help they need to just get back in front and keep their families safely together.”

Food relief, rental support and financial support to buy desperately needed medicines is a good start. But HoW gives more than that, Hoorieh, Miriam and the rest of the team have created a place where it is safe to be the “other”; the outsider, and safe to ask for a hand up when it’s needed.

Perhaps the even more surprising result from the Appeal and all the lobbying efforts of both Catholic and other Christian communities across Australia has been the change of heart within the federal government.

The government had agreed to let 3000 Afghan citizens into Australia after the fall of Kabul. We joined with Christian churches across Australia and said’ because the need was so great’ that the number needed to be at least 20,000 on top of the existing number of refugees given visas in Australia.

Then on Budget night we were all told the government had agreed to increase the offer of 3000 to 16,500 people. This is the result of intense lobbying from across Australia and is a result we can all be very proud of.

When Archbishop Fisher launched the appeal he said in part, “Those lucky enough to make it to Australia seeking protection will need all the support that we can give. So today I am launching the Archbishop’s Afghan Asylum Appeal and committing the resources of our Catholic schools, health and welfare agencies to support our Afghan friends when they get to Australia.”

As the number of people fleeing Afghanistan grows, we know that between all of us, and with the ongoing generosity of the Archdiocese, we will be able to offer desperately needed funds, but also the resources of our Catholic schools, health and welfare agencies. It has been a real privilege being a part of such generosity, hope and community building. Your contributions have not only saved lives, given hope and health but have helped restore dignity to these broken people. Thank you on their behalf.

Palm Sunday at the Park Hotel, Melbourne

A Prayer of Hope

by Dorothy Scott

We came together on Palm Sunday, gathering in front of a hotel in which refugees continue to be imprisoned.

The windows had been deliberately tinted so all we could see inside was darkness.

Despair descended upon us.

Suddenly from a window high above, a few faint lights began to move slowly back and forth in an arc.

Oh, the fragility of hope. The refugees were gently waving to us, using their mobile phones.

This was a small but precious gift of hope that they, who had suffered so deeply, gave to us at the start of Holy Week.

Let us gather all the small and precious gifts of hope we can find so they can speak to the condition of the world.

Sisters and brothers of all faiths, the spirit of our age is one of darkness and despair.

May we find within ourselves and within one another the Light to nurture hope and to illuminate the path on which we walk together in peace.


Palm Sunday at the Park Hotel, Melbourne

by Dorothy Scott 

Faint lights moving back and forth,

Held by men invisible behind a tinted window,

An arc of light silently communicating with protestors below.

On this day, the start of Holy Week.


Seven years imprisoned on a distant land,

Despairing and struggling to comprehend.

And now confined in hotels for over a year.

Some released, but these men left to suffer.


Whose idea was it to tint the windows?

Who ordered it to be?

Who did this task

So those in the street should not see?


One among countless acts of cruelty,

Oh, the banality of evil.

Faint lights moving back and forth,

Oh, the fragility of hope.


Dorothy Scott is an Elder of Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). She wrote this 

prayer and poem in Autumn 2021, inspired by the 150 Days of Action campaign.

The Djokovic Farce

The Djokovic Farce

by Susan Connelly

The Djokovic farce has highlighted at last

That a Melbourne hotel is a foyer of hell.

Men who’ve broken no law are behind its brick wall

And for seeking asylum our pollies revile them.


Tho’ true refugees, they’ve been brought to their knees,

Being locked up for years to placate Aussie fears,

Just pawns used for votes – ’cause they came here by boat,

Just balls in a game that’s Australia’s great shame.

Behind the veneer of some God-talk we hear

Our “leadership” crowd quite appallingly proud

Of what they have done to these men on the run,

As though scapegoating victims befitted a Christian.


I challenge you now – please explain to us how

Jesus Christ would defend the abuse of these men.

If you’re in any doubt, take your good bible out,

Matthew 7:21 is the sine qua non.


Let all tennis stars, from Australia or Mars,

Please do a Craig Foster; your nation will prosper.



Catholics for Refugees join in congratulating new president of Refugee Council

Catholics for Refugees are delighted to join with many justice groups in congratulating Jasmina Bajaktaric-Hayward on her election as the new head of the Australian Refugee Council.

“This is an historic moment in the history of our country”, said Julie Macken, from Catholics for Refugees.  “As millions of us have grieved, watching our country’s inhumane treatment of refugees, we know that Australia needs a new heart and a new way to show mercy – for those urgently seeking safety as they try to escape Afghanistan at this moment, and for those already in Australia, suffering under this country’s injustice and cruelty.  Jasmina’s election gives fresh hope for new possibilities.”

Please see here for the full statement.

Minister Andrews reaffirms the status quo

On September 2nd, 2021, a significant number of Concerned Catholic leaders in the Australian community wrote to all our elected representatives to urge them to take decisive action action to protect those to whom we made promises and those who aspired for more in Afghanistan. We asked for three specific things in light of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan:

  1. To work with other countries to ensure that people who wish to leave Afghanistan remain free to do so.
  2. Australia commit to taking 20,000 people in danger in addition to the existing humanitarian intake.
  3. Grant permanent residency to those living here on temporary protection visas and fast track family reunion.

The full letter is available here.

To date, we have only had one response from the Department of Home Affairs which is available here.

Vicar General of Darwin Urges Prime Minister for an Amnesty

In an open letter written on 19 July 2021, the Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Darwin, Father Malcolm P. Fyfe msc, urged the Prime Minister to cease Australia’s cruel policies towards people seeking protection by boat and to consider an amnesty for those still in detention.

19 July 2021 is the 8th year anniversary of Australia’s declaration that no one seeking asylum by boat would be resettled in Australia and reinstating indefinite offshore detention for them.

He wrote on behalf of the many well-informed thoughtful people who are appalled by Australia’s current immoral and evil treatment of people seeking protection here. He urged the Government to abolish offshore processing and begin a swift and fair onshore processing system; to consider a well thought out one-off amnesty for as many detainees as possible.

If the Government did not take up those suggestions he urged another bi-partisan Expert Panel on Asylum seekers be set up to review the current situation.

“Australia is capable of something a lot savvier and more generous than our current harsh and mean treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. The majority of people I encounter are most uncomfortable with this ongoing reprehensible phenomenon and there is a sense that, as Australians, we are better than this,” he said.

For the full letter, please click here.Continue reading