Government must abandon plans to force refugees living in the community back to danger

Government must abandon plans to force refugees living in the community back to danger

Today the Australian Government told people seeking asylum and refugees they have three weeks to find their own accommodation and they will lose all income support immediately. In a move designed to force people back to danger, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton began issuing a new visa known as the ‘final departure Bridging E Visa’.

Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, said:

“This is a shocking act of cruelty. People are being told all their income is being cut immediately and that they’ve got three weeks before they are evicted from their homes.  And the real sting in tail is that they are being told they must leave Australia and go back to harm on Nauru or Manus or to the same country from where they've fled persecution.”

More than a year ago the successful Let Them Stay campaign prevented Minister Dutton’s first attempt at deporting this same group - including babies born in Australia - back to Nauru and Manus Island. The Minister this morning refused to rule out, and in fact suggested, that the policy would apply to the entire group. The Government's own documents make it clear that the policy will apply to children.

“These are babies who’ve taken their first steps and spoken their first words in Australia. Kids going to Australian schools. Families who have been part of our community for years. And now, out of the blue, they’ll be effectively thrown out on the streets in a cruel attempt to force them back to harm,” said Mr de Kretser.

The documents outline that visa holders will be given 6 months to arrange return to the countries from which they fled, or one of the offshore detention centers on Nauru or Manus.

Natasha Blucher, Detention Advocacy Manager, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said:

“We’re talking about women who were sexually assaulted on Nauru. Men who were violently attacked on Manus. Children who were so traumatised by offshore detention that they needed urgent psychiatric care in Australia. They have already endured unimaginable suffering but were finally starting to rebuild their lives in freedom and safety in our communities. I spent the weekend speaking to these people and they are terrified.”

“It’s cruel. It’s impossible. It will end with children homeless. The only reasonable and compassionate thing to do is let them stay,” said Ms Blucher.

For further information please call:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519