Advocating for fair treatment for refugees and people seeking asylum:
For refugees and people seeking asylum the Edmund Rice Centre (ERC) has continued to advocate for their fair treatment and provided support to help them establish themselves in Australia. Most notable amongst these achievements was Deported from Danger, a research project which detailed the fate of many Afghan asylum seekers who were deported back to their homeland, often to unsafe environments, after the Australian government disallowed their claims for protection on refugee or humanitarian grounds. This work continues today.
In the wake of the return of the Taliban, ERC is in daily contact with our colleagues and vulnerable people in Afghanistan and we are working with them to help them find safety and security. We continue, through our programs, to compassionately advocate for, support and mentor refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia, and to help them integrate into Australian society.
“The Edmund Rice Centre is a place where they are doing everything within their power to educate the community, raise awareness and encourage people to change the policies.” Zaki Haidari, Hazara refugee from Afghanistan
Fighting for Recognition for First Nations Peoples:
Since our inception, the rights of First Nations Peoples have been hard fought for. In 1997, in the early days of ERC, the 'Sea of Hands' campaign was conceived to call for recognition of Native Title in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. This campaign gave rise to Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) which continues to this day.
Fast forward to 2022, and ERC, with your support, is working for the recognition of First Nations Peoples in the Australian Constitution through the adaptation of the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’. ERC staff continue to support people living in remote communities, and to educate the wider Australian community through the Let’s Talk program, and on-going immersion experiences.
"Over the years, Edmund Rice Centre has continued to call for recognition and a voice for our peoples. With the Uluru statement almost a reality, there is still much to do, and we thank the Centre for being there for the whole journey." First Nations Senator Patrick Dodson, Father of Reconciliation in Australia
Empowering Pacific Peoples to address climate change:
For many years now, the Peoples of the Pacific have faced the threat of climate change. Since 2006, ERC has run the Pacific Calling Partnership, in response to Pacific Islander calls for solidarity in the face of climate change. The program has ensured that Pacific Islander voices on climate change are heard loud and clear in the Australian and global community.
In the years ahead, ERC will continue leadership training programs for young climate leaders across the Pacific, and work with their communities to help Pacific voices be heard at international fora, such as the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference in November 2022.
"As small island nations face the uncertainty of climate change, we welcome Edmund Rice Centre continuing to act in solidarity to ensure we have a future in our homelands." Maina Talia, Convenor of Tuvalu Climate Action Network
Compassion, solidarity and social justice: a better world and a new normal
Reflecting on the last 25 years makes it clear that together, we have been there for the good fight, helping the unheard find their voice. But there is still so much to do and there are glimmers of change on the horizon.
And where there is change, there is hope.
The pandemic prompted many to reassess how we looked at the world. What seemed normal changed. Inequalities often ignored were now inexcusable. Healthcare and social service taken for granted were seen as invaluable. Unnoticed workers were seen as essential. We cannot unsee these realities.
In the same way, we cannot unsee what happened to Hazara people in Afghanistan after the return of the Taliban, we cannot unsee the cruelty that has characterised the past 20 years of Australia’s refugee policy, and we cannot unsee the culture of denial that has denied Australia’s First Nations Peoples their rightful place in the life and history of the nation.
On this 25th anniversary of the Edmund Rice Centre it is our task to build a new normal, an inclusive society, to develop a culture of tenderness, love as Jesus and Edmund did, to resist those who exploit and treat others unjustly, to persevere in the face of difficulty and opposition, and to raise our voices on behalf of those who suffer.
This remains our task. And we believe that we can collectively emerge from these recent challenging times and draw deeply from the wells of compassion and solidarity to continue striving for an inclusive society, committed to justice and peace, on a sustainable and flourishing planet together.
The words of Edmund Rice remind us of our commitment to continue striving for a better world:
‘The world and everything in it is continually changing which proves to us that there is nothing permanent under the sun, and that perfect happiness is not to be expected but in another world!’
Edmund Rice to Mother Mary Knowd, Presentation Convent, Dublin. All Souls’ Day 1813
Can you help with a gift and stand with us with compassion so that we can keep the spirit and legacy of Edmund Rice alive?