The report, entitled Lives on hold: Refugees and asylum seekers in the ‘Legacy Caseload’ draws on the experience of more than a hundred experts, including JRS Australia staff, provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges faced by approximately 30,000 people seeking asylum and refugees who arrived by boat before 2014 and have been living in Australian towns and communities since.
JRS Australia is one of the largest specialist organisations working with this group of people in the country, serving and accompanying more than 3,000 children, women, and men per year.
JRS Australia Director Carolina Gottardo said “30,000 people have been waiting five or more years to have their claims for refuge heard and to have their claims adjudicated fairly and efficiently; to be released from detention and given long-term Bridging Visas with work and study rights; to have access to appropriate income support, torture and trauma services, and medical care if they are sick or unable to work; to be reunited with their families.
“None of these basic rights have been guaranteed. Instead we have serious delays in decision-making, families living in destitution and poverty, and an ongoing crisis of suicidality.”
Ms Gottardo continued, “we work with single mothers who have experienced domestic violence and couples over the age of sixty who have not been given access to the Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS), sick people with court hearings or ministerial intervention applications who have not had Medicare or Bridging Visas for months.
“These are people whose lives have been hidden in plain sight, whose fundamental struggles for safety and dignity have not been understood or heard. This important report by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) will be the first of many to shed a comprehensive light on Australia’s asylum policies and their harmful impacts not just for those in detention but those living in our cities and towns as well.”
Many of the recommendations put forward in the report are similar to those raised in JRS Australia’s election statement, Strangers No More: How Australia Can Welcome, Protect, Promote, and Integrate Forced Migrants.
JRS Australia urges decision-makers to seriously consider the recommendations in this report.
With thanks to Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia.