Wednesday 20th August 2014

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the government’s announcement that 150 asylum seeker children held in residential detention will be released into the community.

ACL’s Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the processing of asylum seekers’ claims have taken too long.

“It has been concerning the length of time asylum seekers – particularly children – have been in mandatory detention. It’s no environment for the weak and vulnerable to be in long term,” Mr Shelton said.

“We welcome this announcement but urge the government to speed up the processing of claims. The inability of asylum seekers to find work is demoralising and demeaning and we need to find a better way to process asylum seekers and resettle refugees,” he said.

Mr Shelton urged the government to increase its humanitarian intake from its currently level of 13,750.

“It is disappointing that the government cut its intake from 20,000 to 13,750 and we want to be a nation that accommodates and welcomes those in need,” Mr Shelton said.

“This is particularly urgent given the sheer number of people fleeing persecution in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks,” he said.

Mr Shelton said he reluctantly supports offshore processing as a way to stop the people smuggling business and prevent deaths at sea.