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Youth advocate for refugees


Two social justice youth movements grounded on Christian values recently collaborated for the first time.

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Young Mercy Links and Young Christian Workers came together on September 20 to run an advocacy event in solidarity with the thousands of refugee families that have been denied access to tertiary education.

Isabel Salter and Maya Murali, support coordinators at Young Mercy Links, said prior to Operation Sovereign Borders in late 2013 a decision was made by the Federal Government to grant a pathway for permanent residency to thousands of people on Temporary Protection and Safe Haven Enterprise visas for people arriving by boat.

Isabel said this meant that those eligible would be able to apply for permanent residency after 10 years of contribution to Australian society, marking 2023 as the end of the decade. Services such as tertiary education would now become accessible for many as the first step to a promising future.

“However, a small cohort of 12,000 arrived in late 2013 after the establishment of Operation Sovereign Borders, where former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced anyone arriving by boat would never be resettled in Australia,” Maya said.

“This decision has affected their quality of living…without a pathway to permanent residency these people are not permitted to study at a tertiary level.

“We especially feel for the young people that currently cannot pursue tertiary education after growing love for the Australian education system through their primary and secondary years.”

Sisilina Saukuru, Youth Engagement officer with the YCW, said the two groups were grateful to hear the stories of a diverse panel of “brave young women, in their journey as refugees and the impact of different levels of education on their lives”.

“There was an opportunity for group discussion about the potential actions for change and reflection into our own personal lives,” she said.

“It was an inspiring night to mingle with passionate individuals yearning for action; action workshop led by Jude, coordinator of Justice for Refugees.

“With the celebration of Migrant and Refugee Sunday at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral concluding the week, what better way to kickstart such a theme by acknowledging and standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the refugee community.”

Isabel, Maya and Sisilina thanked the “fabulous volunteers” from both Young Mercy Links and YCW for organising the night.

If you’d like to be involved in this or any other call to action contact Sisilina or Isabel and Maya at or

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