Government must abandon plans to force refugee families into destitution

Government must abandon plans to force refugee families into destitution

The Australian Government has told yet another group of up to 90 refugees and people seeking asylum that they will be evicted from their homes and will be cut off from all income support.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton last year issued the visa, known as the ‘final departure Bridging E Visa’, to single refugee men and asylum seekers, but is now roping in women and children into a situation designed to force people into destitution.

Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy with the Human Rights Law Centre, who represents the group, said that these men, women and children were understandably frightened.

“These families have endured years of suffering and abuse in offshore detention and then more years of daily uncertainty in the community. They just want to get on with rebuilding their lives. But instead our Government is ripping the roof from over their heads and forcing them into destitution,” said Mr Webb.

The people are part of more than 400 men, women and children evacuated from the Australian Government’s offshore detention camps for medical treatment and other critical reasons. Some women were pregnant. Other men, women and children were evacuated because they were seriously unwell or injured in violent attacks. The Human Rights Law Centre represents most of this group.

“We’re talking about children who have been going to school in Australia for years. But now these kids face having empty lunch boxes and no roof over their heads. It’s brutal.”

“These families have already endured unimaginable suffering but were finally starting to rebuild their lives in freedom and safety in our communities and now they face an uncertain future,” said Mr Webb.

The group also includes families with babies born in Australia who are now living in the Australian community, and children now in their third year of schooling in our local schools.

“Many of the families we've spoken to are shocked and terrified. They've got no idea where they will go or how they'll make ends meet and put food on the table for their kids,” said Mr Webb.

For interviews contact:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519