JRS Australia and the Refugee Council of Australia engaged in a round of advocacy with federal MPs last week. In these meetings, which were held virtually because of the cancellation of parliamentary sitting due to the Queen’s passing, JRS Australia highlighted the need for swift transition of TPV and SHEV visa holders to permanency and reuniting them with their families.
TPV and SHEV visa holders have endured 10 years of uncertainty and enforced family separation, which has contributed to a rise in mental health problems and suicidality. JRS Australia also spoke about the following:
- Ensuring that Australia issues humanitarian visas swiftly to at-risk Afghans whose applications were received as early as August 2021. Many are stuck in Afghanistan, where they face imminent risk from the Taliban and ISIS. Those who have relocated to regional countries like Tajikistan, Iran, and Pakistan face deportation and extreme financial hardship after exhausting their savings and other coping mechanisms.
- Restoring the educational rights of young people who were relocated to Australia from offshore processing facilities but whose rights to education were curtailed by ministerial discretion after they turned 18. These young people have poured their heart and soul into their studies, some of them obtaining university scholarships. The denial of their right to education creates mental distress and an uncertain future for those who should be in the classroom, not outside of it.
- Allocating funds to support people whose asylum or refugee applications are being processed. Funding for the Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) program, which provided essential medical, housing and financial service to asylum seekers, was cut 85% over the last few years, leaving many vulnerable to destitution, hunger and homelessness. The October 2022 and May 2023 Federal budgets should restore this funding to provide critical services to this vulnerable population.
- Expanding Australia’s humanitarian program to make up for cuts in the program over successive years.
JRS Australia will continue to engage the MPs on these and related issues to ensure that Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program responds to the needs of vulnerable people who seek Australia’s protection.
You can read more about JRS Australia’s advocacy focuses in our submission to the Australian Humanitarian Program 2022-2023 here.