Salvo to help out in Nauru
ROCKHAMPTON'S Major Peter McGuigan is an old hand at the "helping" game.
The Salvation Army officer-in-charge of Capricornia hopes Rockhampton people will pray for him as he heads to Nauru to shore up support for asylum seekers.
Major McGuigan said he was privileged to be offered the "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to help asylum seekers being transferred from on-shore to off-shore processing on the Micronesian island.
He played a key role during the 2011 floods in Rockhampton as he directed the Salvation Army in its flood relief work, helping up to 1000 people during the aftermath.
Major McGuigan and his wife, Lieutenant Tara McGuigan, are part of a 30-strong crew of Salvation Army staff from around Australia deployed to Nauru.
"These asylum seekers are amongst the most marginalised people in the world," he said.
"They have been caught up in a business of paying to come to a place where they think life is going to be better."
In fact, they have been told a lie by people smugglers seeking to cash in on their tragic plight.
"Governments and humanitarian agencies are realising more and more that the solution to the asylum-seeker issue must be worked on collaboratively by the nations in the Australasian region."
The Federal Government had contracted the Salvation Army to provide humanitarian support to asylum seekers accommodated on Nauru.
This included case management, community liaison programs, emotional support and building the Nauruan asylum.
On Friday, Salvation Army staff on the ground in Nauru were preparing for the first intake of 30 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka.
Major McGuigan said when the 30 Sri Lankans were escorted off the plane, they were introduced to a new life on the island by the Salvation Army.
"It's like a tent village over there but the Australian military is working eagerly on better structures."