“The emotional impact in the room was palpable” was one comment following the latest in the series of ACP business network luncheons conducted by the diocese. The luncheon was held on Thursday 12 May at Surf House, Merewether and considered “Refugees and Asylum Seekers – Accepting a New Reality”.
A panel of three guest speakers addressed the gathering, providing a social and political setting, a personal witness to the difficulties encountered by refugees trying to reach a safe country and to resettle, and then the facts around the movement of people around the world, the implications for us as a community and how it might be resolved. The panel comprised Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre, Sydney and president of the Refugee Council of Australia; John Sandy, a Sierra Leone man, a refugee who has undertaken such a journey, who now works at the CatholicCare Refugee Service; and David Manne, International Human Rights Lawyer, migration agent and Executive Director of the Refugee Legal and Immigration Centre in Melbourne.
A wide cross section of the business community attended, along with representatives from the various services that assist with resettling newly arrived migrants (Navitas Newcastle; Northern Settlement Services and Settlement Services International). Also present were representatives from our CatholicCare Refugee Service and, a first for our luncheon events, representatives from the Law faculty of Newcastle University.
Prior to the luncheon Phil and David were interviewed by Ben Millington on ABC 1233 radio, thenled an hour-long dialogue with diocesan staff and student and teacher representatives from St Joseph’s High School, Lochinvar.
The diocese is grateful to all three presenters – to John for sharing his incredible and inspiring story and to David and Phil for making their time available from their busy schedules to share their extensive expertise in this very emotive area of public dialogue.
The response to all presentations has been significant and the impact for all who were able to share the “experience” was considerable.