The Ballarat Diocesan Social Justice Commission welcomes the decision to increase the refugee intake by more than 6000 people per year under the changes recently announced by the Prime Minister.
This is an important step in one of the most worthwhile recommendations of the report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers (the Houston Report) that was released on 13 August 2012.
The Houston Report went on to recommend that consideration be given to increasing this intake by a further 7000 over the next five years.
The Ballarat Diocesan Social Justice Commission fully supports this recommendation as a further indication of moving towards a more humanitarian stance on Australia's response to the needs of asylum seekers.
It will be important to ensure that this increase in intake is met with appropriate support for the newly arrived immigrants to ensure that they settle with dignity.
A central feature of this support is a welcoming attitude consistent with the Australian tradition of welcoming new immigrants onto our shores.
The commission also supports recommendations from the Houston report to engage closer with our international neighbours to ensure that bilateral co-operation on asylum seeker issues be advanced as a matter of urgency.
In particular we support the call for changes to Australian law relating to a need for new measures to expand regular humanitarian pathways and make international protection arrangements more effective.
The commission welcomes and shares the aspiration for established processes in which genuine incentives for asylum seekers to participate in needs based, well managed, regionally co-ordinated, safe and timely process that deliver durable outcomes and which build hope and confidence in the system.
However, the Ballarat Diocesan Social Justice Commission remains committed to the target of seeing mandatorily detained migrants be released or placed in the community within a maximum period of three months.
Executive Officer, Ballarat Diocesan Social Justice Commission