We can do better for people seeking asylum
This article is sponsored by Uniting, the Board of the NSW and ACT Synod of the Uniting Church responsible for the work of community services, chaplaincy and social justice advocacy.
Local constituent meetings with federal MPs to discuss the rights of people seeking asylum in the community are taking place across Sydney. Community and faith delegations – including those led by Uniting Church members – are gathering to ask their elected representatives in the lead up to the next election to do better for people in our communities.
Delegations are visiting MPs to discuss specific issues of fair process and permanent protection for those in Australia and for a larger, more responsive humanitarian intake program for those wishing to seek safety here.
Currently, those applying for protection in Australia are forced to navigate an incredibly complex system with minimal access to legal advice, support and without the right to a meaningful review of their case. This has seen many more people be denied protection and facing a greater risk of being returned to danger. Recently, this group of over 15,000 people and children have been dealt devastating cuts to essential support services, placing vulnerable individuals and families at risk of homelessness and destitution.
Permanent protection for those found to be refugees is another question being put to MPs. Current policy dictates that they only be given temporary protection visas, forcing them to reapply every three or five years. Without any right to family reunion and the fear of having to plead their case again and again, these people and children are prevented from being able to heal, rebuild their lives and contribute to society.
With the issues of immigration and refugee intake likely to be a high priority for all parties at election time, it’s essential that MPs are seeing their constituents knocking on their door to talk about this.
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