Detention issues have long been a priority concern of JRS around the world. In Australia, JRS has been a regular visitor for the past eight years to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, where staff and volunteers conduct weekly religious services and make pastoral visits to detainees with protection and other related concerns. JRS also has pastoral workers in three other Immigration Detention Centres: Curtin, Christmas Island, and Inverbrackie. In 2011, teams provided 3,700 individuals with pastoral or psychosocial care.
JRS supports initiatives and efforts for lasting policy change by both national refugee agencies and the International Detention Coalition (IDC). Established in 2006 by JRS International and other concerned organisations, the IDC works to raise public awareness of migration detention policies and practices and promote greater protection and respect for the human rights of detainees. JRS Australia and other coalition members advocate for a more limited use of immigration detention, an increase in alternatives to detention and in less restrictive forms. In 2011, 500 persons were served in the area of advocacy and protection.
JRS Australia played a key role in the government decision in October 2010 to release families in vulnerable circumstances and unaccompanied minors into the community as an alternative to detention.
Agreeing to pilot a project for former detainee minors while they await the outcome of their asylum applications, JRS opened the first community detention house for these minors in the country in December 2010, and subsequently opened a second house. Following the expansion of the government initiative, JRS responded in February 2012 by providing accommodation and casework support for 40 men, with the possibility of extending support to vulnerable families.
JRS advocates for change in government policy on migration detention directly through Associate Director, Dr Maryanne Loughry RSM, who is also a member of the Minister for Immigration's Council for Asylum Seekers and Detention (MCASD). In addition, 125 individuals received emergency assistance in 2011 from JRS.
This project focuses on displacement due to climate change, including the psychological and social impact on the affected populations, and how to map their needs. So far the project has focused on 500 persons from the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea who are being moved to Bougainville on the mainland, with 3,000 other potential persons within its scope.
Fr. Bambang A. Sipayung SJ
+66 2 640 9590
JRS Asia Pacific is one of 10 geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service. JRS offers a human and pastoral service to refugees and the communities who host them through a wide range of rehabilitation and relief activities. Services – including programmes of pastoral care, education for children and adults, social services and counselling, and healthcare - are tailored to meet local needs according to available resources. The regional office serves refugees and other displaced persons in Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste.
Australia: Jesuit Refugee Service urges government to reinstate work rights and provide vulnerable families with adequate support
Sydney, 14 May 2013 – The government decision to release families on bridging visas is a positive step, but the omission of the right to work will put asylum seekers at high risk of destitution, according to a statement by the Jesuit Refugee Service Australia earlier this week.
JRS calls on Australian Government to reinstate work rights and provide vulnerable families with adequate support
The Australian government’s decision to release families on bridging visas is a positive step, but the omission of work rights from the policy will put asylum seekers at high risk of destitution, says JRS Australia.
Australia Country Director's Letter: Asylum seekers under 15 deserve schooling
Sydney, 22 April 2013 — Early this month, on 5 April, the Australian government announced that 150 asylum seekers between the ages of 15 -17 held in Pontville Detention Centre, 30 km north of Tasmania's capital Hobart, would be allowed to attend public schools.
Australia: Opposition asylum seeker proposals ignore the facts
Sydney, 1 March 2013 — Earlier this week a 21-year-old Sri Lankan asylum seeker was accused of sexually assaulting a student at Macquarie University in Sydney. Scott Morrison, the spokesman for the opposition Coalition (of political parties) in Australia, is using the event to criticise the current Labour government for allowing asylum seekers into the community instead of keeping them in detention.
Australia: Sprinting away from responsibilities
Sydney, 4 December 2012 — Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia is alarmed and concerned by the Australian government’s decision to apply the "no advantage" test to asylum seekers who arrive by boat and are released into the community.
Australia: struggling to survive on an atoll
Bougainville, 30 August 2012 —The coming months will see the relocation of the first 40 families from the Carteret Islands onto the mainland of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. This process has been closely followed by JRS Australia which, in cooperation with UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), designed a data-collection process to be used by the Autonomous Bougainville Government in this relocation process.
Australia: tragedy at Christmas Island
Christmas Island, 30 August 2012 — The Christmas Island community was struck with a deep grief last June when 90 asylum seekers drowned while trying to reach the island. More than 100 people survived the tragedy; Sr Dorothy Bayliss was there to provide pastoral support for them as part of the JRS programme on the island.
Australia: protecting people on the move
Sydney, 10 July 2012 – Jesuit Refugee Service Australia is making a key contribution to the way in which asylum seekers are treated as they transition through South East Asia on their way to Australia.
Australia: a humane solution for asylum seekers
Sydney, 10 July 2012 – In a pleasant suburb of Sydney, in a place that once housed university students, thirteen Afghani men are trying to recapture some normalcy in their lives as they await the outcome of their asylum claims.
Australia: a 20 year search for the right asylum policy
Melbourne, 25 June 2012 – Last week’s tragedy of another mass loss of life at sea between Indonesia and Christmas Island focuses our minds yet again on an intractable public policy problem for Australia – our search for a coherent, workable and moral asylum policy.
Australia: JRS expands community reception project
Sydney, 30 April 2012 – In its biggest expansion yet, JRS Australia is increasing its number of staff threefold in response to the number of asylum seekers being released from secure migration detention centres.
Australia: What I saw at Christmas Island Detention Centre
Sydney, 29 February 2012 – When Fr Celso Romanin SJ arrived on Christmas Island in October this year, he encountered detainees living without hope, scenes that reminded him of his work years earlier with refugees in Asia and Africa. Here, he reflects on his experience.
Australia: searching for deeper meaning in accompaniment, the story of Thomas
Sydney, 20 November 2011 – Thomas has been one of our clients since the Sydney World Youth day 2008. In Sydney, JRS houses asylum seekers who are at risk of destitution while they undergo their refugee status determination.
Australia: newsletter reveals the disappointment of JRS
Sydney, 1 September, 2011 – 2010 marked the 30th anniversary of JRS. If annual reports are meant to showcase the success of an organisation, and to make a case for its continued existence, then 2010 must be marked down as yet another year of disappointment for JRS: we continue to exist when we would rather not. As Fr Peter Balleis SJ, the Director of JRS International, put it during his visit to Australia to commemorate the anniversary,‘It would be better if JRS didn’t exist’.
Australia: Tampa 10 years on, refugees considered worse than criminals
Bangkok, 28 August 2011 – The key consequence of the Tampa crisis was a "fundamental shift" in the way refugees were regarded in Australian society, said Jesuit Refugee Service Australia Director, Aloysious Mowe SJ.
Papua New Guinea
Democratic Republic of Congo
Katanga Province, DRC
United States of America
Central African Republic