Each year JRS Australia’s policy and advocacy team are invited to provide evidence, expert input and recommendations to government, parliamentary, departmental or statutory body inquiries into aspects immigration, refugees, and asylum policy.
Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Consultations on Australia’s Humanitarian Program 2019 – 2020
In early March 2019, JRS Australia Director Carolina Gottardo joined a select group of civil society representatives to attend the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs’ consultations on the management and composition of Australia’s Humanitarian Program 2019 – 2020.
JRS Australia’s written submission to the consultations focused on a number of pressing policy challenges that fall within the purview of the program. These include:
• The significant delays in processing of onshore protection visas and the accompany lack of access to fundamental services through the Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS).
• The surge in onshore protection applications and the simultaneous fall in visa grants.
• The problems that women seeking asylum who have experienced sexual & gender-based violence (SGBV) face in reporting, and accessing basic support to stay safe.
• The need for more people of refugee backgrounds to be offered skilled visas, student, or other complementary visa pathways under our skilled migration program and international student sector respectively.
• Our support for an expanded Community Support Program (CSP) that offers resettlement places that are additional to the humanitarian program.
• The need for the Australian government, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and civil society to provide greater material, technical, and financial resources to refugee-led organisations trying to create livelihoods, and integrate in communities across South East Asia, and to support clear criteria for emergency resettlement quotas to help address situations such as the Rohingya crisis and protracted refugee situations in the region.
• The need to review the balance of aid contributions to countries participating in Australia’s offshore processing regime.
• The need to adopt and implement the Global Compacts (GCs).
JRS Australia also provided twelve recommendations that we will be taking up with the Australian government after the May federal election.
In late February, Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces
JRS Australia staff members also attended civil society consultations to the AHRC’s national inquiry into sexual harassment at the workplace, and drafted a written submission on how people seeking asylum can be vulnerable to such harassment and worse if and when they work.
The submission focuses on a number of issues including:
• how women seeking asylum are less likely to report any form of sexual harassment due to an ingrained fear of authority, and of the perceived and real immigration consequences of getting involved with law enforcement matters.
• how women seeking asylum are being forced into informal, precarious, and exploitative employment.
JRS Australia Director Carolina Gottardo and Policy & Advocacy Coordinator Nishadh Rego joined leaders with lived experience, representatives from the Hazara community, Uniting, St Vincent De Paul Society, and the Catholic Church to meet with key ALP leaders in Seven Hills last week.
JRS Australia has led or participated in more than 35 meetings with Federal and State-level decision makers in the last year.
JRS told stories and raised concerns around the lack of safety and support for women seeking asylum experiencing SGBV, on the homelessness and destitution impacts of the cuts to basic support services (SRSS), and on the lack of a fair refugee status determination (RSD) process for people who arrived by boat.
The Shadow Minister reaffirmed the ALP’s commitments on many of these challenges as outlined in the ALP National Conference in December 2018, but also made some significant new commitments, to which we and other civil society representatives will hold him to account if the ALP forms government.
Pictured below, JRS and multicultural leaders meet with ALP Minister, Shayne Neumann, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, and Michelle Rowland, Member for Greenway.
Links to Policy Submissions: