Leading NSW charities have condemned the demonisation and targeting of people seeking asylum by Minister Dutton

People seeking asylum wait for legal support from RACS at the JRS outreach clinic.

People seeking asylum wait for legal support from RACS at the JRS outreach clinic. Credit: NK Photography

We call on the Australian government to introduce a just process to ensure people seeking asylum are able to present their case and be given a fair go.

Joint Statement: JRS Australia, Asylum Seekers Centre, Refugee Advice and Casework Service, House of Welcome (a service of St Francis Social Services), St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

We state that enforcing such tight deadlines on people who arrived by boat between August 2012 and December 2013, will negatively impact the men, women and children that each of our agencies support. It will also put extreme pressure on our organisations to provide adequate legal support and services. The reality is that the majority of people were only allowed to apply from November 2016.

This change in deadline has caused grave uncertainty and increased pressure on people who are still waiting to gain access for assistance to lodge their claim for refugee status. The application is a complex 60-page form that is only available in English and must be completed in English. It is 40 pages just for a baby. For many people this will be impossible to achieve. Access to legal assistance is essential, but even with an interpreter and a lawyer it can take up to 14 hours to complete.

As a nation we have a responsibility to implement a fair process: to ensure that people seeking asylum are given the assistance they need in order to have their case accurately presented. Many are already suffering from trauma, stress and anxiety and do not need to suffer further from being demonised and prejudged by politicians.

Our shared experience is that ‘Conning the Australian taxpayer’ is the absolute last thing on their mind. Almost all have suffered severe trauma that has been exacerbated by the constant flow of changing and confusing announcements and requirements coming from the government over several years. Using this vulnerable group to score political points is not new and is unacceptable to us. Our organisations believe in the values of respect and honesty, we believe in the innate dignity of the people we serve. We believe they deserve a chance to have their claims heard, we believe that access to legal support gives them the best chance to be heard.

We call on the Australian government to introduce a just process to ensure people seeking asylum are able to present their case and be given a fair go.

Frances Rush, Chief Executive Officer, Asylum Seekers Centre

Tanya Jackson Vaughan, Refugee Advice and Casework Service

Carolina Gottardo Director, Jesuit Refugee Service Australia

Lyn Harrison, Chief Executive Officer, House of Welcome (a service of St Francis Social Services)

Jack De Groot, Chief Executive Officer, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

Media contacts:

Asylum Seekers Centre, Lee Meredith: 0432 062 122

Jesuit Refugee Service Australia: 0414 880 625

St Francis Social Services, Ina Mullin: 0412 377 217

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, Phyllis Sakinofsky: 0417 446 430

Refugee Advice and Casework Service, Eimear O’Sullivan: 0404 150 556

Press Release: Joint Response to Immigration Minister Dutton’s deadline 

Share Button