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Catholic Bishop welcomes changes to detention system

Prime Minister John Howard’s announcement of changes to immigration detention laws is a welcome step towards a more humane treatment of asylum seekers, a Catholic Bishop said today.

Bishop Joseph Grech, the chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Migrants and Refugees, said he particularly welcomed the announcement that families with children would be placed in community housing rather than behind razor wire in detention centres while their claims are being assessed.

“This is a very welcome, but long overdue move towards a more compassionate immigration detention system,” Bishop Grech said.

“We are also pleased to see an increased emphasis from the government on processing asylum claims in a more timely manner.

“There is no doubt that Australians have become increasingly disturbed about people, including some children, being held for long periods of time in detention and this appears to be a step in the right direction in addressing that situation.”

Bishop Grech said while concerns remained about the conditions of those granted Temporary Protection Visas and about other aspects of immigration policy, the changes announced by the government were welcome, particularly for families seeking asylum.

Released by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

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