Kate Chaney calls for urgent resolution for refugees in ongoing limbo


Kate Chaney calls for urgent resolution for refugees in ongoing limbo

Independent Member for Curtin, Kate Chaney, has joined with refugees to challenge the Albanese Government on their commitment to granting permanent visas for persecuted families.

The Albanese Government came to power almost nine months ago with a promise to abolish Temporary Protection Visas and the similarly short-term Safe Haven Enterprise Visa. The Government also said they would review the controversial “Fast Track” protection claims process for people seeking asylum. Federal Immigration Minister Andrew Giles and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil have repeatedly pledged to fulfil the promise but claim there are details that need to be worked out first.

For refugees like Nader Hosseini, who have already been waiting up to ten years, the promises have worn thin. Mr Hosseini asks, “How much longer do we have to wait? It has already been too long.”

Mr Hosseini is a tiler in the Perth building industry and a refugee from the Hazara ethnic minority in Afghanistan. He said people in his situation were in increasing despair, saying, “We have fled the Taliban 10 years ago and yet we still cannot be with our families. I have my four children still in danger. The Australian government has agreed that I am a refugee, but they won’t allow me to bring my family here because I only have a temporary visa.”

Mr Hosseini is one of approximately 20,000 refugees living, working and paying tax in Australia who remain stuck on an endless loop of temporary visas. There are a further 11,000 people on bridging visas still awaiting the outcome of their asylum claims through the “Fast Track” process.

Kate Chaney said the time has come for the Albanese Government to come good on its promises. “Thousands of people are still waiting for the promised resolution. This needs to happen now, to give people back their lives and end a decade of uncertainty.

“I urge the Government to fulfil your promise and end the cycle of limbo and suffering for these refugees.”

Independent Member for Curtin Kate Chaney pictured with Mr Nader Hosseini and Associate Professor Caroline Fleay.

Associate Professor Caroline Fleay, Co-Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University said, “We are extremely worried there has been no announcement from the Federal Government as yet on how the cases of 31,000 refugees and people seeking asylum subjected to the unfair “Fast Track” process will be resolved.

“The impact of this terrible ongoing uncertainty on refugees and people seeking asylum on temporary visas and their families is profound. Many have had to live through yet another Christmas knowing that while so many of us spent time with our families, they continue to be forced to live apart from their families. And they have had no indication about when this situation will end.”

Mr Hosseini said, “We don’t want any more promises. We need action.”

Palm Sunday Wrap Up 2021

People joined us in hubs, homes and in person in the city to call for Justice and a Fair Go for Refugees. You can watch the full event online HERE!

Justice for Refugees WA, a network of more the 40 community organisations, faith groups and human rights agencies, is calling on Australia’s political leaders to abandon the current harsh and unjust policies of detention, uncertainty and limbo, and to instead provide permanent protection for people seeking safety. Instead of prolonging the despair of people seeking asylum, the group calls for political leaders to provide protection, security and freedom, through a fair and just process.

Over several years the group has coordinated the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees along with groups around the country. This year, as a precautionary approach in light of COVID-19, the group hosted a live webinar event at the Uniting Church in the City Hall, Perth, which was watched by small groups gathered in community centres and homes across the state.

Farhad Bandesh, a Kurdish asylum seeker who was recently released from a Melbourne immigration facility following eight years of detention, called into the Perth Palm Sunday event to share his experience. Mr Bandesh said, “I can’t describe how good it feels to be out of detention – freedom is beautiful. We just need everyone to be free.”

Joanna Josephs, General Manager of the Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD) was a guest speaker at the event. CARAD provides essential case management, emergency relief and volunteer support for people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds in Perth, and they are concerned at the increasing demands on their service.

Ms Josephs explained that it was a particularly challenging time at the moment, saying, “We have been experiencing a significant increase in need among our client community.

“There continues to be drastic cuts to the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) program. In WA, out of the thousands of people seeking asylum living in our community, only 78 people remain eligible to receive just $36 per day from Centrelink (through the SRSS program). All of the other people seeking asylum are completely ineligible for any form of Centrelink.

“The federal government must not continue to deliberately force people seeking asylum to live in the community with no financial support while they take years to process asylum claims.”

Associate Professor Caroline Fleay, Co-Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University added her voice to the call for a humane response to people seeking safety saying, “Let’s be guided by compassion in how we respond to others. Instead of limbo and uncertainty, we can offer freedom and a future where people seeking asylum and their families are safe.

“The cruelty of immigration detention, forcing people to live on temporary visas indefinitely, and refusing to reunite families, none of these are humane solutions for those who have turned to us for refuge.”

Susy Thomas, Moderator of the Uniting Church Western Australia said, “Australians have had enough of the cruel marginalisation of refugees. People want to see some real change in the way people seeking asylum are treated. Indefinite detention and temporary visas create terrible anguish that we cannot, with good conscience, continue to allow.”

Refugees and people seeking asylum currently languish in either the limbo of detention or the uncertainty of temporary protection visas. People in Papua New Guinea and Nauru are approaching their eighth year in limbo.

Approximately 30,000 refugees in Australia (the “legacy caseload”) await visa grants or live on temporary visas with their futures shrouded in uncertainty and limbo. Many families are separated with no hope for reunification due to the cruelty of current policy, and live in constant fear of deportation to danger.

To join the call for action contact the UCWA Social Justice team at social.justice@wa.uca.org.au