Unfinished business in the fight for refugee rights

The end of the Coalition government is very welcome—but the fight for refugee rights is far from over. On 13 February the new Labor government finally announced plans to honour its promise to grant 19,000 refugees on Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and SafeHaven Enterprise Visas (SHEVs) permanent visas.

These refugees will be able to apply for permanent visas in late March. This means they will finally have the right to travel overseas as well as to family union and, once they become citizens, to university education.

Permanent visas for all

But there are also 10,000 other asylum seekers who were refused visas under the Liberals’ unfair “fast track” processing system. Labor has made no promise to deliver them permanent visas.

Labor returned the Nadeslingham Home to Bilo, and gave them permanent visas.

But as Priya has said “I believe the ‘fast track’ system was unfair. The people who interviewed us had no idea about what has happened in Sri Lanka for Tamils. The policies were made specifically to fail us.

“We need to grant permanent residence to everyone, so we can live our lives peacefully.”

There are another 1200 refugees in Australia from offshore (Medevac refugees and families from Nauru) who still have no future too. Some may get resettlement under the NZ deal. But they face waiting as long as three more years. And 505 of them will miss out altogether, left behind without any permanent resettlement options.

End offshore detention

There are still 150 refugees stranded on Nauru and PNG. Some will get to New Zealand under the resettlement deal announced in the dying days of the Coalition government. The Australian government has washed its hands of those in PNG who are not eligible under the formal NZ resettlement deal but NZ has indicated it is willing to consider them separately.

End boat turnbacks

It was Labor that re-started offshore processing, and they have still not abandoned the policy. On their first day in office they confirmed the turnback of a Sri Lankan refugee boat, and they have pledged to continue boat turnbacks.

End the ban on resettlement from Indonesia

Scott Morrison, banned resettlement in Australia of any refugees who applied through the official UNHCR process after 1 July 2014. As a result there are 14,000 refugees stranded in limbo in Indonesia with few other options for resettlement. Labor must lift the ban and bring them to Australia.

The fight for refugee rights is not over until the thousands of refugees whose lives the Coalition tore apart gain a secure future, and until the boat turnback and offshore detention policies designed to keep out refugees end for good. Get involved in the campaign to push the new government for change.

Read on for more information on

Temporary refugee visas

Thousands of refugees to be granted permanent visas as Labor moves to fulfil election promise, ABC news, 13 February 2023

Life in limbo on ‘the worst visa in the world’, SBS news, 19 June 2022

“Everything is more difficult”: Refugees call for permanent visas, SBS news, 20 September 2022

Medevac refugees from PNG and Nauru in Australia

Video: Refugees brought from Nauru Zahra Hashemabadi and her 18-year-old daughter Sahar Ghasemi speak out

Medevac refugee Farhad Bandesh told “Australia is not an option for you”, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 October 2022

Refugees stuck in PNG

Asylum seekers Australia refused to let in, SBS news, 24 July 2022

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