Seeking asylum, even by boat and without documents is legal under the Refugee Convention, a document which Australia helped create and signed in 1951. Under this convention, asylum seekers arriving this way are not to be penalised.
Historically, Australia has been a country where the oppressed can seek legal refuge and be treated in a humane and dignified manner. Indeed, our Australian Anthem since 1977, Advance Australia Fair supports this sentiment:
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In more recent times, both sides of politics have sought to demonise asylum seekers, especially those arriving by boat.
SASS (Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney) was established in 2013 by a group of ordinary Australians who started to visit Villawood regularly out of concern for the attitude and treatment of asylum seekers by both major parties.
The Group has grown significantly since inception and our visitors are now endeavouring to broaden visits to other detention centres in the country. This was prompted by the sudden decision of our Government in March 2014 to further isolate many of our friends by moving them to more remote detention centres including Curtin, Darwin and Yongah Hill.
Importantly, SASS supports the need for processing of asylum seekers in a fair and efficient manner. What we object to is the current practice of leaving these people to languish indefinitely in harsh detention centres without any end in sight. Criminals are given a sentence to serve, these people are not. The sense of hopelessness that mandatory detention creates is cruel and senseless.
SASS is committed to raising awareness amongst the general population as to the myths and facts surrounding asylum seekers. Our desire is that their voices are heard and Australia will act in accordance to the UN Convention that we agreed and signed.
It is our hope that in time we can have justice for these people.