The Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP) was established in 2001. It is a Melbourne-based initiative of the Brigidine Sisters whose motto is Strength and Kindness. The Brigidine Sisters have been engaged in education and social justice in Victoria since 1886.
The co-founders of the project are Sr Brigid Arthur and Sr Catherine Kelly. Catherine passed away after a short illness in March 2015.
In 2018, BASP was incorporated into Kildare Ministries as one of its ‘Community Works’.
BASP was established to work for a humane, just and inclusive approach for people seeking asylum in Australia. The main work of the Brigidine Sisters for over a century in Australia has been education but this has broadened to include work for more vulnerable people in society. Recently the Sisters have entrusted their ministries to a new Public Juridic Person (PJP) called Kildare Ministries. This new governance structure is responsible for 10 secondary schools and 3 community services. BASP is one of these community services. Download Kildare Ministries organisational structure.
BASP has had DRG status since 2004, and reports annually to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC).
BASP is governed by a Board with the following members as at February 2019, listed in the column to the right. The Brigidine Sisters continue to support BASP as they have for the past 18 years. They pay for 1.5 staff, provide office space and make yearly financial donations.
What we do
The Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP) aims to:
- Provide hospitality and practical support for people seeking asylum;
- Actively network with like-minded individuals and groups who are working for justice for asylum seekers;
- Promote advocacy for the rights of people seeking asylum;
- Engage in education about asylum seekers’ issues.
What we believe
I was a stranger and you made me welcome
Every person, irrespective of age, race, gender or religion has the right to live safely, free from persecution. When applying to Australia for protection, asylum seekers should be treated with dignity and respect and their claims should be processed with expediency.
Underpinning this work are the core principles of universal human rights and Australia’s responsibilities to those seeking asylum, especially the need for just and accessible procedures and structures.
The Project works with, and for, people seeking asylum both in detention and in the community. Concerned and compassionate women and men across cultures and generations contribute to the work of the Project.
The BASP community believes Australia is both richer and stronger for welcoming those seeking asylum.
Australia’s Asylum Seekers
- Asylum seekers are people just like us, responding in similar ways to most of us when confronted with the circumstances they are fleeing.
- Contrary to the images sometimes projected by government and the media, most asylum seekers arrive in Australia by air as authorised visitors.
- Some have arrived by boat which is not illegal. People are eligible to seek asylum regardless of their means of arrival.
- Those seeking asylum in Australia have been threatened or persecuted in their own countries in ways that we find hard to imagine from the safety of this country.
- They seek fair and timely assessment of their application for protection so they can start rebuilding their lives and contribute to their new country.
- The current long delays in processing applications, lack of security, withdrawal of income support or work rights add further trauma to people already vulnerable.
- Those left in limbo in offshore and onshore detention suffer further at what has been internationally described as inhumane treatment of people in need.
- People seeking asylum want Australian people to know their stories which demonstrate they are not criminals or terrorists.
- They have families – mothers and fathers, wives and husbands and children and they both grieve for them and worry about them.
- While the government’s response is increasingly harsh, people seeking asylum appreciate the support and encouragement given by many in the Australian community.
We are most grateful for all the support we receive from people like you. Here are some of the innovative ways people have found to help:
Brigid Arthur csb
Brigid Arthur csb, BASP Project Coordinator
Julie Catalano, BASP Board Secretary
Julie Francis, Manager City Futures, Moonee Valley City Council
Rita Grima, Principal, St. Columba’s College
Norman Katende, Communications Coordinator, North West Program Alliance, Projects, Metro Trains
Joshua Lourensz, Executive Director, Catholic Social Services Victoria
Cecilia Merrigan csb, Retired member of Leadership Team Brigidine Congregation
Mark Northeast, Chartered Accountant, Director, Board member, Company Secretary and Treasurer of a number of Boards
Libby Saunders, BASP Project Coordinator
(csb = Congregation of Sisters of Brigid)
Heart and Hope
A free and inspirational book that provides a history of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP) since its beginning in 2001.
It traces BASP’s response to Australia’s increasingly cruel and chaotic policy regime for asylum seekers. It demonstrates how ‘listening with a heart’ to asylum seeker needs and ‘working to maintain hope’ can make a big difference.