It was very encouraging to hear recently of the Hodgman government’s plans to accommodate 500 extra refugees in the state due to the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Guy Barnett said we should see these needy families arrive in the state before Christmas. They will be refugees on a range of humanitarian visas.

This will provide the Christian community a wonderful opportunity to reach out with the love of Jesus to those who have little and hurt much.

This positive development was followed up a few days later with more good news from Prime Minister Tony Abbott regarding federal action on the Syrian refugee crisis:

  • 12,000 extra permanent refugees from the Syria/Iraq conflict to be resettled in Australia

  • From persecuted minorities - unlikely to ever return home

  • Women, children and families would be given first priority

  • Normal security checks would be undertaken

  • Australia also to pay for the direct accommodation of 240,000 refugees seeking refuge in camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey

This will provide further opportunities for Tasmanians to extend the arm of friendship to those less fortunate. My home church, Trevallyn Life Church, has been wonderfully enriched by the lives of a West African family who came to Australia via the humanitarian refugee programme.

The recent retirement of one of Tasmania’s staunchest refugee advocates in Bishop John Harrower. One only needs to google ‘Bishop John and refugees’ to see the important contribution Bishop John has made to the cause of the over the past 15 years in Tasmania.

It is very fitting that in John Harrower’s this month as Bishop these two positive announcements should be made.