Care for Christmas Island

Written by  Amy Goodhew 28 September 2011
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The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev. Alistair Macrae, has launched an Appeal to support a ministry of pastoral care and spiritual support for detainees and staff at Christmas Island Detention Centre.


Rev Macrae said 'The Uniting Church has been consistent in its advocacy for a more humane approach to asylum seekers. While we both oppose offshore detention, and recognising continued excision of Christmas Island from our migration zone, we need to match our advocacy with a demonstration of pastoral care and spiritual support of those detained or working in these dreadful places'.


Last year Rev. Macrae and the Anglican Archbishop of Perth, the Most Rev. Dr Roger Herft, visited Christmas Island.

The debate over asylum seekers continues to polarise politics and Australian society. The rhetoric has been charged on both sides but the real victims of the politicking have been the asylum seekers themselves.

Right now people wait in limbo in detention on Christmas Island and other places, waiting to hear if they can pursue a new life in Australia or if they must go back to 'where they came from'. In the majority cases, that means places of violence, conflict and uncertainty.

The mental health toll of prolonged mandatory detention can be devastating and there are numerous reported cases of self harm, metal illness and even suicides in Australia's detention centres.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman report on Christmas Island found that there are too many people being detained at the Christmas Island immigration detention facilities and the current scale of operations on the geographically remote island are not sustainable.

The operational capacity of the Detention Centre is 400, and while it's contingency capacity is 1116, it has been over this number 16 times since November 2007.

The Uniting Church in Australia, together with the Anglican Diocese of Perth are undertaking to send a Chaplain to Christmas Island to provide pastoral support for detainees. The Chaplain would be trained in sensitivity to multi-cultural and multi-faith realities and respect for clients' spiritual or religious preferences.

Providing this spiritual support will show compassion, love and support for detainees and staff on Christmas Island. And hopefully, if the Appeal is successful, provide for similar ministry in other detention facilities as well.

Please support this important work and show care for those in Christmas Island by helping to send a Chaplain to Christmas Island.


Last modified on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 08:51
Amy Goodhew

Amy Goodhew

I am editor of The Transit Lounge, the youth e-zine for the Uniting Church in Australia, I produce publications, write for other church publications, manage media, graphic design, manage our website and take care of other communication business as needed.


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