Treat refugees humanely: Red Cross

THE Australian Red Cross has fired a broadside at the Commonwealth Government warning that any new policies must accommodate the humanitarian needs of asylum seekers.

While arrangements for processing asylum seekers who arrive in Australia are ultimately decisions of government, the Red Cross is concerned to ensure any proposals for change take full account of the humanitarian needs of these vulnerable people.

The organisation said that these needs include appropriate care for their health and wellbeing, the timely resolution of a person's refugee application, the availability of durable solutions for people in need of protection, and ensuring people are able to restore family links both while awaiting an outcome of their refugee application and beyond.

"Asylum seekers are some of the most vulnerable people in Australia, and Red Cross' priority is to ensure that, regardless of how they arrive, they are treated humanely, with dignity and respect," the statement read.

"Red Cross has been supporting asylum seekers in Australia for over 20 years and approaches these issues from a humanitarian perspective, consistent with our fundamental principles. How people are treated during the process of refugee determination is our key area of focus.

"We have advocated that community care is a better and more humane arrangement than immigration detention and would expect that any future arrangements ensure that the standard of care offered to asylum seekers in Australia is upheld as a minimum.

"Red Cross will closely monitor the situation as it unfolds and continue to engage directly with government around issues of humanitarian concern. There is still much more we need to understand about the recommendations and how government may decide to implement them, but any proposals for change must be humane, durable and sustainable."

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