The Edmund Rice Centre has joined with the Refugee Council of Australia in calling for the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to provide evidence for his serious allegations that refugee advocates have been inciting refugees to self-harm.
“The very serious allegations made by the Immigration Minister today belie the facts and the compassion we have witnessed over three decades of working with and for refugees,” President of the Refugee Council of Australia and Edmund Rice Centre Director, Phil Glendenning said.
“In our experience, supporters of refugees and people seeking asylum do the exact opposite of what the Minister has claimed today.
“Along with many others and based on substantive evidence, we have warned that the policies of respective Australian Governments risk these shocking acts of desperation.
“People who volunteer their friendship and time, often at great personal cost, to support people in these terrible situations have a right to be profoundly disappointed and alarmed by these inflammatory statements provided without evidence.
“We call on the Minister to provide any evidence he has to substantiate his very serious allegations.
“If he cannot provide the evidence, the Minister must apologise.
“We have seen over the last 15 years that when people are detained without hope for extended periods that they start to lose all hope and take devastating actions.”
The Edmund Rice Centre is concerned that the issues of immigration, refugees and asylum seekers are again being used by politicians to win votes in the lead-up to an election.
“Time and again we have seen short term political interests override the leadership and compassion required to resolve these difficult situations. The tragic untruth of children overboard and the recent unfounded allegations against child protection staff on Nauru show us that Governments will make derogatory claims to suit their own short term political interest.
“It’s a time for cool heads and compassion, and to right this terrible wrong that has ruined the lives of so many innocent and desperate people,” Mr Glendenning concluded.