Anglican Social Responsibilities Commission
The Centre for Asylum Seekers,
Refugees and Detainees (CARAD)
The Revd Grahame Bowland, Anglican Social Responsibilities Commission
A couple of weeks ago Alison Xamon, the General Manager of the Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees, invited me to visit. Many Anglicans will have heard of CARAD, which has assisted refugees in Western Australia for over 20 years.
Alison describes CARAD as “the agency of last resort, but also the agency of first call.” CARAD’s capacity to directly assist refugees is limited, so they work to connect those in need with existing agencies and programmes. This leaves CARAD to directly assist those who no other agency is able help. Refugees and asylum seekers are often referred on to CARAD by other organisations. CARAD make use of their experience working with refugees and asylum seekers, and their knowledge of and connections with other agencies, to assist.
CARAD directly assists refugees, asylum seekers and detainees in several ways. A food bank provides fresh and packaged food; CARAD’s food truck creates employment for refugees, as well as opportunities for up-skilling. People detained while awaiting the outcome of visa processes receive visits from volunteers, organised through a structured visitation programme. Teaching is provided on diverse topics, from the English language through to practical skills around living in Australia, such as dealing with tax and superannuation.
CARAD receives no federal government support to operate, and so relies entirely on the support of individuals and organisations – primarily churches. CARAD originated as an initiative by the Council of Churches, and receives significant help from the Uniting Church (who provide a building for CARAD to operate from), from the Sisters of St John of God, and from MercyCare.
That Christians from many denominations come together to support CARAD should be no surprise: it is, after all, a shared response to the call of Jesus in the Gospel of Saint Matthew: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
That CARAD receives no federal government assistance has one advantage: it enables frank and fearless advocacy. From a Christian perspective, CARAD answers the call of God found in the words of Mary in the Magnificat – to challenge the powerful and lift up the lowly. (Luke 1:52) CARAD has had a significant impact on government policy, and I hope and pray that this will continue in the future.
CARAD need our help to continue their important ministry.
We can respond by directly supporting the CARAD foodbank, but most importantly by financially contributing to their operations. Perhaps you or your parish, school, or agency can help.
Find out more: www.carad.org.au/donate