Asylum Seekers Centre
- 17 February 2023
- Stuart Robinson
BREAKING: Late last night the Government announced that it would finally honour its election promise to the 19,000 people who are currently on a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or on a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV). They will now be able to apply for a newly created permanent residency visa.
This brings certainty for people who have lived with great uncertainty since 2013. The relief, joy and opportunity that this will finally bring to so many people forced to endure being in limbo will be life changing.
For many others who still remain without any pathway to permanent visas, there will still be sadness this morning.
Last week I gave evidence to a Senate inquiry into poverty in Australia. I was humbled to stand beside a member of our community who bravely shared her own experiences of living in poverty in Australia.
Nadia* is a person seeking asylum who talked about the stress of working and yet always being behind in her rent. And she gave evidence to the inquiry about her constant worry about her children’s futures.
Nadia’s experience is shared by the thousands of people seeking asylum we support every year at the Asylum Seekers Centre. The policies and laws debated in our Federal Parliament have a deep effect on the lives of people in our community, and at the moment that effect is damaging.
First week of Parliament
The first week of Parliament for 2023 was concerning and confusing for people seeking asylum. Instead of a warm welcome to author Behrouz Boochani who appeared at Parliament House on Tuesday in the last week of his visit to Australia, the federal government introduced a Bill to redesignate Nauru as a place for regional processing for the next decade.
For people in our community who were subject to years of detention and cruelty in Nauru, the way this was treated as an administrative matter was deeply hurtful. Many have returned to the memories and trauma of their time in Nauru and wonder how Australians can support the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars for this cruelty to continue.
On ABC TV’s Q&A program with Behrouz on Monday, Shadow Treasurer Steven Jones said it is the ALP’s aim to have offshore detention facilities with zero people in them. This week Nick McKim introduced legislation to the Senate to evacuate 150 people still in Nauru and PNG which would achieve this aim.
Action for offshore
Along with our colleagues at the Refugee Council of Australia and others, we call on our members of Parliament to pass this bill and bring people to Australia while a fast and permanent home is found. The UNHCR describes Australia’s offshore detention program by saying, “Such arrangements are not only detrimental to the wellbeing of those transferred but they shift asylum responsibilities, evade international obligations, are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention…”
The mental health crisis amongst refugees and people seeking asylum is rising. The need for intensive support and crisis help has risen by 400% between December and January.
We can continue to offer hope, practical help and community. The government must continue to make changes to turn that hope into action.
Thank you for raising awareness and taking action wherever possible. Writing to your local MP or calling their office is always effective.
Your support brings such welcome and joy to people seeking asylum.
Frances Rush OAM
CEO, Asylum Seekers Centre