FOR more than 20 years Sister Patricia Linnane has been a staunch advocate for the rights of refugees.
Now she is urging the people of Orange to show their support for asylum seekers isolated in detention, by writing letters, which will be passed on by fellow refugee advocate Julian Burnside QC.
Sister Linnane, who worked for many years at the Croagh Patrick Orphanage in Orange and was honoured with a humanitarian award by the Refugee Council of Australia in 2010, says there is no point lobbying politicians while the government is in its current mindset to stop the boats and turn them back.
“That’s a waste of time,” she said.
“But what I would really love is for families to sit down together and write letters and share the experience of supporting our refugees in detention centres.
“They need to feel they are not alone.”
Orange resident Bev Holland, who is part of the Orange Social Justice Group, which meets every month as part of the activities of St Joseph’s Parish, encourages people to write letters to asylum seekers in detention centres.
“This latest news about the Sri Lankan asylum seekers is just awful,” she said.
“I just feel so sad that many people in Australia feel the way they do about asylum seekers, that they don’t want them here.
“If they could walk a mile in the shoes of people who are seeking asylum I think they would feel differently.
“I’ve just watched a television program about Andrew Denton and his Jewish heritage and how his family were forced from their homes by the Nazis. I don’t see how that is any different.”
Member for Calare John Cobb said his constituents were not pushing for a change in government policy.
“To be honest in the last few weeks there has only been one person who has raised this issue with me,” he said.
“People don’t want to see refugees queue jump and, interestingly, I find women, particularly mothers, have even stronger views on this than men. Even in left-wing labour electorates in western Sydney the migrants feel just as strongly that people shouldn’t queue jump.”
Mrs Holland said the Orange Social Justice group welcomed new members of any denomination.
People wishing to become involved, or would like more information, should call Mrs Holland on 6362 4744.