Justice for refugees and people seeking asylum

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Dear Ministers

Palm Sunday is traditionally a time to call for justice and peace – this is a call for Justice for Refugees and people who are seeking our protection.  As our community grapples with the health, safety and economic crisis of COVID-19 we must remember that people seeking asylum and refugees here in Australia, and those held offshore, are still struggling with injustices, insecurity and cruelty under the current polices. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

I am very concerned about the unjust and inhumane treatment of these people:

  • Thousands who are recognised to be refugees are denied permanent protection, have no family reunion rights, and cannot rebuild their lives in Australia – they have temporary visas which leave them and their children in a state of perpetual uncertainty
  • Nearly 30,000 people seeking asylum have not had their refugee claims assessed, and live in a state of uncertainty on bridging visas, many for several years
  • Thousands of people are at risk of destitution because they have no income support and very limited employment opportunities – this is urgent with so many job losses resulting from COVID-19.  Just like others, these people need income support now – include all refugees and people seeking asylum who need income support in the Newstart package.
  • Over 500 people seeking asylum, including some people who have refugee status are being detained in Australia, many for over 5 years.  Detaining people because they seek asylum contravenes international law. these people are not at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • Around 400 people are still stranded on Nauru and in PNG.  These people have suffered for nearly 7 years - they need safe resettlement now. 

I call on you to abandon punitive and unfair polices and to provide a safe future for people who seek asylum in Australia. We have the resources to fully welcome refugees. The cruelty and abuse must end.