Our anthem is sung from small school assemblies to footy finals. Most know the first verse and are even surprised to discover the second verse with its lines that challenge Government refugee policy of recent times:
For those who come across the seas
We’ve boundless plans to share
These lines will now be given life and fire as the title of this year’s Social Justice statement from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council The statement summary in video format may not have the the grandeur of a full choir and orchestral setting.of the anthem, however it presents lyrics that touch our hearts.
It is a subtle presentation of the facts about refugees and asylum seekers in our world and local community.It is also a challenge and an invitation to action.
We all have a role to play
What can we do as individuals and a community to help our brothers and sisters and work for a conversion in our nation? The task is not easy, but there are many things that we can do.
First, we can make sure that Australians understand the issues better. Quiet conversation and
example are powerful tools for conversion.
We can also support the organisations that work to help asylum seekers: organisations like the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Catholic Social Services, Jesuit Refugee Services, Asylum Seekercentres and many others.
We can work within our parishes to ensure that they are welcoming places. Creating social events, organising or joining support networks, introducing refugees and hearing their stories: all these are ways in which we can recognise the humanity of those who have come in need of protection.
Politicians need to know that we feel passionately about this issue, and not just at the ballot box, when we cast our vote. Writing to local members and ministers does have an effect, and can give encouragement to those in Parliament who also seek a better way.
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office is a valuable source of advocacy and information. The Office provides education resources for schools and materials for the annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees – the last Sunday in August.
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council distributes a Ten Steps leaflet that will include ways in which we can work to promote understanding and help such people in practical ways.
Many dioceses have very active Justice and Peace offices that can make suggestions about practical steps you can take or organisations you can support.
At the Brisbane launch we sang All are Welcome, a song that gains new meaning in the light of this statement.