A safe haven for those fleeing danger

February 13, 2024

For more than 30 years, the Asylum Seekers Centre in the heart of Newtown has provided a warm welcome and practical help for people seeking asylum, while advocating for fair and humane treatment for refugees and people seeking asylum.

In those three decades, the Centre has never witnessed a displacement crisis like the one that confronts us across the globe today.

There are currently more than 114 million people displaced worldwide. More than half of them are still looking for their new home. Fleeing danger has come at the cost of their homes, their families, their culture, and their communities.

People are impacted by circumstance, conflict, and climate. At the ASC, we are committed to ensuring the human right to seek asylum is protected in Australia and advocating for people arriving in our community to have a pathway to a safe haven.

A safe haven is more than just a physical location. It means different things to every person.

It could be the sense of community and familiarity that accompanies a hot lunch, prepared by one of our volunteer groups.

It could be the dignity and opportunity that comes when people find work, and the agency, connection, and recognition that brings. Our dedicated employment team works with partners to open up pathways, secure funding, and identify opportunities.

Without government income support, many people who are seeking asylum in Australia experience crisis situations and unstable housing situations. We provide dedicated support to assist individuals and families to find practical solutions to address their circumstances.

It could be social activities, education, healthcare, or simply a demonstration of humanity and empathy in a system that often lacks both.

We consider providing support at times of great need a privilege. It also provides a unique perspective on the reality of what’s happening in the lives of people seeking asylum and a sense of mission and urgency we apply to advocate for better policy and systemic change.

That advocacy has never been more important. If a safe haven is a feeling of belonging, understanding, and care, it is clear those qualities are now at risk in Australia. As we enter the countdown to yet another election, one that risks being characterised by polarisation and scapegoating, it is vital we put humanity at the forefront of our approach.

Australia must be a safe haven for people seeking asylum. Through rules, regulations, rhetoric, and responses, we must remember the human right of seeking asylum and the moral imperative of welcoming those who do.

Regardless of how a safe haven is defined, the Asylum Seekers Centre will continue to provide it. From the frontlines to the front bench, we’ll be there.

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