Iranian refugee Hossein Latifi (left) and Sri Lankan refugee Thanush Selvarasa
SBS NEWS, 20 JUNE 2022
It’s been just over two months since the last remaining detainees were released from the Park Hotel, but many still face an uncertain future. In the lead-up to the 2022 federal election, there was a spate of releases from Australia’s immigration detention, including the final eight people being held in the hotel.
Iranian refugee Hossein Latifi was released on 1 April after nine years in immigration detention.
“On a bridging visa for six months you do not feel safe. Everybody feels this way,” he said. “Because [if you do] anything [wrong], they will take you back inside the detention.
Sri Lankan refugee Thanush Selvarasa was detained on Manus Island, at MITA, and at the Mantra Hotel Melbourne before he was released in January 2021. He has since become a human rights activist for people seeking asylum and is an intern with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
A spokesperson for the ASRC said there are currently no prospects of refugees who arrived by boat after 2013 settling in Australia. The future of refugees currently on bridging visas varies, depending on whether they are on a resettlement pathway to the US, Canada, NZ or another third country or not.
FRIDAY 22 JULY, 6.30–8.30AM IN CONVERSATION – BEING ANTI-RACIST
Venue 114, 114 Sportsmans Parade, Bokarina
Featuring former Socceroo’s captain, award-winning broadcaster, Member of Australian Multicultural Council and Human Rights activist Craig Foster AM as the special guest.
Attendees are invited to join Craig and panellists to openly discuss the impact that racism can have on the Sunshine Coast community. Cost: $49.50 per person, including breakfast
VENUE to be advised.
We are seeking NOMINATIONS (or expressions of interest) from members willing to fill the position of director in 2022-23. Directors are responsible for managing and directing the activities of Buddies. They meet once a month and the role is not onerous. For more information: Len 0419 664 524, or Lynda 0416 878 431.
18-23 SEPTEMBER LEARN ENGLISH HOLIDAY – HOMESTAY HOSTS NEEDED
Matthew Flinders College, Buderim
Plans have started for the next Learn English Holiday program for the first week of the September school holidays. We will need volunteer homestay hosts for families from Afghanistan, Tibet, Somalia and Congo.
If you think you may be able to volunteer as a Homestay Host, a driver, or a support person in the Education Program please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Kayla on 0427 380 235 for Homestays or Lesley on 0427 351 797 for the Education Program.
So determined was Peter Dutton to oppose every application for asylum through every possible court and tribunal that each of the big five law firms had a Peter Dutton department. My estimate of his expenditure of public funds on lawyers' fees was around 4 billion.
– Victor Kline, barrister and director of the Refugee Law Project, on Twitter
Please sign this petition and share with your friends.
“Please, Prime Minister Marape, Spicy needs his family, and his family needs him. Three years in prison for wanting to support his PNG family is much too long. Spicy needs compassionate consideration. Please use your good office to take whatever action is needed to speedily release Spicy from Bomana and allow him to live in PNG with his family.”
This 5 minute video provides a snapshot of community members constructing the 'Welcome' sign – part of the recent SCRAN Refugee Week project. The video is featured on the Regional Australians for Refugees Facebook page.
This campaign is to raise money for the Naderi family who we are supporting, now living in almost impossible conditions in Kabul Afghanistan. They have managed to acquire passports and now they need to take the risk of trying to get into the relative safety of a neighbouring country.
We need to help the family raise enough money to purchase the mandatory visas to enter Pakistan. Once safely there they will be able to work with Australian or American authorities to gain asylum seeker status.
BEHROUZ is a feature documentary directed by Simon V Kurian, following Behrouz Boochani as he navigates the life in detention, and leads the resistance to indefinite detention. Finally, his life in Christchurch, New Zealand as a free man, after over 6 years of detention on Manus Island. Premiering in Melbourne this month.
“This film is about a long struggle to expose and challenge a system which is designed to dehumanise people who flee dictatorship and war.’ – Behrouz Boochani
POLICY BRIEF: Reforming Australia’s temporary protectiom system
Kaldor Centre, 28 June
The Albanese government has committed to ending temporary protection. At this pivotal moment, the Kaldor Centre policy brief maps the way, with a package of 17 inter-related measures that would resolve the legal status of people in the ‘legacy caseload’ so they can settle and give back to Australia.
Buddies meeting on Sunday 26 June, featuring three very different refugee stories
REPORT BY BUDDIES SECRETARY GAYNORE STOESSEL
From left: LEH coordinator and event organiser Lesley Willcoxson, Tenzin from Tibet, Homestay Host Robin Dobson, George from Syria, Kamero from Burundi and Homestay Host Kristi and daughter Amelia
Three stories of a different sort to the limbo of the “boat people; however, all show the courage and adaptability of having to leave behind all that you’re familiar with.
Firstly, George from Syria watched his uncle killed by ISIS and knew his life was threatened.
Tenzin from Tibet, whose parents were involved in politics, wanting to be free from domination from China, has had no contact with them since leaving.
Kamero from Burundi fled because of political oppression, and was in fear of his life. He spent four and a half years in a refugee camp before coming to Australia.
All three of these refugees were part of the LEH program. And all expressed how it was such a positive impact on their lives, learning to live in Australia, becoming part of the Australian community.
VIDEO: This is what life is like on a temporary visa
SBS News, 20 June
Reza Rostami has been living a life in limbo because of ‘the worst visa in the world’. While grateful for the safety that Australia has provided him and his family, he’s urging the government to make changes as thousands continue to be tortured by anxiety over the future.
Exploited in a crisis: why are Sri Lankans getting on boats bound for Australia?
THE GUARDIAN, 26 JUNE
Poor and vulnerable people fleeing Sri Lanka are being met by Australian boat turnbacks and ‘enhanced assessments’ that may breach international law.
Despite a change in government, Labor has committed to continue the Coalition’s turnback policy.
Human trafficking rings are exploiting Sri Lanka’s economic crisis to coerce some of the country’s poorest and most marginalised onto boats out of the country.
But against the backdrop of civil unrest and forecast widespread hunger in Sri Lanka, there are persistent concerns that asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia are not having their claims for protection properly assessed, and that some may be forcibly and unlawfully returned to harm.
Dutton: Labor will ‘rue the day’ it removes temporary protection visas NEWS.COM, 22 JUNE
Australia’s TPV system is expensive, impractical and inconsistent THE CONVERSATION, 30 JUNE
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says Labor will “rue the day” it legislates to remove temporary protection visas. Mr Dutton said Labor has the Operation Sovereign Border “formula” and it would be a “disaster” if it removed temporary protection visas.
“If they pull that limb, Operation Sovereign Borders falls over,” he told Sky News host Chris Kenny.
“When they say they support Operation Sovereign Borders – they don’t. They support their own version which doesn’t have temporary protection visas.
“And that will be their undoing when it comes to boats, tragically and regrettably.”
The election of the Albanese Labor government brings an opportunity to end one of the most detrimental elements of Australian refugee law and policy in the past decade: the use of temporary visas.
Temporary protection has been the only option available for asylum seekers who arrived by boat a decade ago and were recognised as refugees. Known as the “legacy caseload”, these people are caught in a system of law and policy that keeps them in a state of perpetual limbo.
The impact of temporary protection and the fast-track system on refugees and asylum seekers has left many depressed and suicidal.
Boats are not the problem, it’s the 130,000 asylum seekers living here
ABUL RIZVI*, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 17 JUNE
Another 10,000 legacy asylum seekers have been refused protection. They are effectively in the same position as the Nadesalingam family before they were taken into detention.
Why the previous government picked on this family and not the other 10,000 remains a mystery. Perhaps they realised the cost of removing 10,000 unsuccessful asylum seekers would have been overwhelming?
So, are we to become more like the US and Europe with huge numbers of asylum seekers living in the shadows of society, constantly exploited and abused while they work illegally in order to survive? Or does the Albanese government have the courage to regularise the status of unsuccessful asylum seekers and prevent the re-emergence of the massive labour-trafficking scam that took place under the previous government?
* Abul Rizvi was a senior official in the Department of Immigration from the early 1990s to 2007. He is a former deputy secretary of the department. He is a special adviser to strategic communications firm, Michelson Alexander.
Tamil family home to Bilo but thousands still waiting for Labor SOLIDARITY, 24 JUNE
ABF ‘threatens refugees’ with deportation, say advocates CANBERRA TIMES, 30 JUNE
Labor made two major promises on refugees before it was elected: that it would return the Nadesalingam family to Biloela, and that it would grant permanent visas to all those refugees who arrived by boat and were only granted Temporary Protection Visas (TPV) or Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV) by the Coalition government.
Albanese said he could see “no impediment to the family being settled permanently in Australia”, adding, “but that will be a decision for the Minister”. The Minister, Andrew Giles, vaguely indicated, “What I am intending to do is allow the family to continue in Biloela with certainty.”
Real “certainty” would mean granting the family permanent visas but Giles has stopped well short of this.
Australian authorities have threatened a dozen refugees in detention with deportation. The 12 refugees are detained in the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre and Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre in Perth, according to the Refugee Action Collective.
All have received phone calls from the Australian Border Force threatening deportation, the Collective say. Two among them – both originally from Bangladesh – have approached the organisation for support. The men have refused to return to the country voluntarily, and have genuine fears for their safety there, a Collective spokeswoman said.
Both men have been detained for more than a decade.
Leeton’s refugee, migrant success stories drive new NSW government program
ABC RIVERINA, 30 JUNE
When Pakistani migrant Ali Mehdi’s father died in 2017, he started to look for a place to move his family. Trying to find somewhere where his children could get a good education and have freedom of movement, he landed on Australia.
After years of working through paperwork and delays caused by COVID, he settled in Leeton, in southern New South Wales. Leeton is part of a pilot program and many migrants and refugees have now settled there. A new report shows the town is a popular location for Hazara Afghan refugees.
Mr Mehdi had a master’s degree in urban planning and was able to find a job with the local council. “I was lucky enough to find a place in this wonderful council. Most people here are treating me like … I can’t find the words,” he said.
Thank you to Ann Koenig, Gaynore Stoessel, Kayla Szumer and Diana Woolleyfor their contributions to this edition.
BUDDIES BULLETIN – EDITORIAL POLICY DEADLINE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS:5pm second Wednesday of the month. Next Bulletin 12 August
Please send contributions for the newsletter to the editor. EDITOR / PRODUCTION:Wendy Oakley WEBSITE: Wendy Oakley FACEBOOK – SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER:Sam McGill
ABOUT BUDDIES REFUGEE SUPPORT GROUP Buddies is an independent community group based on the Sunshine Coast which advocates for just and compassionate treatment of refugees, consistent with the human rights standards which Australia has developed and endorsed.
We support policies towards refugees and asylum seekers that reflect respect, decency and traditional Australian generosity to those in need, while advancing Australia’s international standing and national interests. Confidentiality Your email address is completely confidential. To contribute to Buddies Buddies’ fundraising contributes to refugee and asylum seeker support. You can direct debit to:
Suncorp Bank, BSB 484-799
Account No: 123508960
Account name: Buddies Refugee Support Group Ltd
Your donations are much appreciated by those we help.