A timely discussion on ethical refugee policy took place just two weeks before the federal election.
A poignant discussion took place at the Third Annual Bishop Joseph Grech Colloquium on Ethics and Migration at ACU's Melbourne Campus just two weeks before the federal election.
Bishop Grech was a passionate advocate for refugees and asylum seekers on behalf of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life (BCPL) and the colloquium has been held in his honour since he died suddenly in 2010.
Australia's former Ambassador to the Holy See Tim Fischer engaged in this timely discussion alongside Apostolic Nuncio to Australia His Excellency Archbishop Paul Gallagher and Bishops' Delegate for Migrants Bishop Gerard Hanna.
"Sometimes the media smear newly-arrived refugees and migrants, and have done so over the various cycles, including the huge wave of Vietnamese boat people Australia accepted in the 1970s and 1980s," said Mr Fischer.
"But guess what? The second and third generation of these Vietnamese boat people are now massive contributors to the GDP of this country. Almost always, the migrant and refugee have a determination, a dedication, a motivation, that sometimes far exceeds that of some Australians who have been afforded more opportunities."
Mr Fischer saluted the efforts that have been made by various Christian, government and non-government organisations in Australia to provide an educational uplift for migrants and refugees.
"We cannot step back from the several thousands of refugees set to come through the front door into Australia this calendar year, and every year after that," he said.
Bishop Hanna spoke of the importance of continuing dialogue on this issue in honour of Bishop Grech and emphasised its role in influencing policy.
"It is our hope that all political parties will take the opportunity to note what the Church says about how we must protect the most vulnerable in our society," said Bishop Hanna.
"I would like to reflect on the dignity of the human person who sets out on a pilgrimage to another land. I am thinking of the thousands of people who, for various reasons choose to come to Australia to fulfil their faith and hope."
"Much more, I am thinking of the most recent arrivals and those who more acutely live the phenomenon of forced migration and look for a place of welcome, peaceful living and dignified opportunities."
Australian Catholic University organised the colloquium in conjunction with The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office – dedicated to the acceptance and settlement of refugees and migrants into Australia through its attempts to influence Government policy in this area.