Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #5: A positive policy solution

Critiquing Government policies is easy; finding positive solutions is more difficult. Yet positive solutions to Australian asylum seeker issues have been recommended by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for years, centring on regional collaboration. The Bali Process, as it is called, gathers leaders and experts from the region in order to address irregular movements between countries, with the aim of stopping people smugunhcr-1951-refugee-conventiongling and protecting displaced people.

Regional collaboration, steered by the UNHCR, is holistic and comprehensive, encompassing ‘both legal and safe passage issues while also recognizing the root causes of irregular migration.’

Collaboration is essential: the Bali process acknowledges that pathways to refugee status are very limited in the Asia-Pacific. (Statistical forecasts suggest that at current rates of resettlement, placing those people presently fleeing persecution would take five hundred years! The Government’s mantra that asylum seekers should ‘wait their turn’ and pursue ‘regular pathways’ to settlement, ignores our shared responsibility to provide such pathways.)

Genuine collaboration between nations in order to provide reliable and consistent access to processing and settlement, has the potential to both ‘stop the boats’ and care for those fleeing persecution.

Rudd’s new policy has been criticised by the UNHCR as it erodes the integrity of regional collaboration. It also nullifies Australia’s own authority as a potential voice of reason and compassion in the Asia-Pacific. Rudd’s policy is a step backwards not only nationally, but regionally.

Worse, to our nation’s shame, the Australian Government has chosen to disregard hard won international agreement for the protection of refugees, represented in the Refugee Convention of 1951. Thanks to Rudd’s policy, the Refugee Convention has less authority than it had a few weeks ago—this is tragic. With this erosion of humanitarian authority for ethical action we are sinking in the mire of national self-interest and the mud slinging of petty politics—Australia is experiencing an absence of moral leadership.

Here is policy suggestion, consistent with both international Conventions and a biblical ethic of welcome: prioritise regional collaboration, as the UNHCR suggests, dealing with organized criminal networks and enhancing protection and reliable processing for asylum seekers. Meanwhile maritime arrivals to Australia are treated with dignity and respect, living within the community as their claims are processed. And Australia should heed the UNHCR’s recommendation for greater collaboration in order to minimize deaths at sea.

Biblical ethics call for a new idealism in Australian politics: for citizens and leaders who dream bravely toward policies that lead to the flourishing of all (idealism, visible in the leadership of the likes of Lincoln or Mandela, is glaringly absent in current debate).

And it calls for a new idealism among the people of God: if witness to Christ in Australia is to be authentically biblical and if it is to be heeded by compassionate Australians, then the church must carefully attend to biblical ethics regarding the stranger and both advocate for, and model, the radical welcome of Christ.

[This blog is a portion of an article forthcoming in Eternity Newspaper.]

[If you found this blog helpful, would you please share it? And if you would like to follow these blogs, please press ‘follow’ at the top of the screen.]

Blogs and articles in this series (Australian asylum seeker policy, Aug-Sept, 2013):

Laws of Inclusion and Strategies of Exclusion: New Australian Asylum Seeker Policy Under the Scrutiny of Deuteronomy, published with CASE magazine.

Loving the Stranger, published with the Centre for Public Christianity.

The PNG solution and Biblical Ethics, published with Eternity Newspaper.

Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies#1: Disingenuous Rhetoric

Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #2: Excise the Australian mainland from the migration zone

Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #3: PNG is violent and dangerous—Rudd’s policy is harsh and selfish.

Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #4: Australia is not pulling its weight in refugee settlement.

Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #5: A positive policy solution

About Mark Glanville

Mark Glanville is a pastor-scholar who ministers in a missional urban community, Grandview Church, Vancouver, and is Professor of Old Testament and congregational studies at the Missional Training Center, Phoenix (missionaltraining.org). Mark's research focusses upon the Pentateuch, biblical ethics, and mission. Mark has authored an introductory book on Exodus (Lexham, forthcoming), numerous refereed articles and chapters on the Pentateuch, mission, and refugee related issues, as well as numerous popular articles. Mark is presently co-authoring a book, "Providing Refuge: A Missional and Political Theology." Mark is regularly called upon to speak on in Canada, the U.S., and Australia. His previous career was as a jazz pianist in Sydney, Australia (Chick Corea and Wynton Kelly are his musical heroes).
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8 Responses to Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #5: A positive policy solution

  1. Pingback: Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #1: Disingenuous Rhetoric | …for he has made you beautiful

  2. Pingback: Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #2: Excise the Australian mainland from the migration zone | …for he has made you beautiful

  3. Pingback: Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #3: PNG is violent and dangerous—Rudd’s policy is harsh and selfish. | …for he has made you beautiful

  4. Pingback: Australian Refugee Policy for Dummies #4: Australia is not pulling its weight in refugee settlement. | …for he has made you beautiful

  5. Pingback: The PNG Solution and Biblical Ethics – an new article with Eternity Newspaper | …for he has made you beautiful

  6. Sharolyn says:

    As a dummy ;), I found this series really helpful Mark. It helped me to understand the issue at hand (which gets so muddled up in the media) and I really appreciate your wisdom and insight from a biblical perspective.

    Your call to Australian churches is just what we need “…if witness to Christ in Australia is to be authentically biblical and if it is to be heeded by compassionate Australians, then the church must carefully attend to biblical ethics regarding the stranger and both advocate for, and model, the radical welcome of Christ.” Amen!

    • Thanks for taking time to write Sharolyn. It is great to hear from you. Blessings as you bring the light of the gospel to bear upon ‘every square inch’ of life and culture in Brisbane.

  7. Pingback: New article with CASE magazine: Laws of Inclusion and Strategies of Exclusion | …for he has made you beautiful

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