10 October 2023
Lost for a decade
Desperate asylum seekers have staged weeks of protests, including a hunger strike, outside Hotham MP and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil’s electorate office.
Entering their fourth week, they are among 10,000 or so asylum-seekers in “limbo” in Australia for about a decade. Many of them are thought to live in Melbourne’s South East.
They say they continue to be sidelined despite the Government’s pledge to fix a “defective” refugee protection system.
Among them is 60-year-old Saeed Razi who after 10 years on a temporary visa has had enough.
He waged a five day hunger strike at the O’Neill office until he collapsed on the footpath and was hospitalized on 21 September.
Two weeks later, he was back at the protest site (Lucadou-Wells 2023).
18 October 2023
Hundreds of asylum seekers rally in Canberra, call on government to grant them permanent visas
For more than a decade, Mahdi Azizi and his family have been living in limbo. The 40-year-old came from Iran to Australia by boat in early 2013 and has been living on bridging visas in the hope of one day securing permanent residency in a country where he says he feels safe.
Mr Azizi says as a Christian, returning to Iran would be dangerous (Vikhrov 2023)
18 October 2023
Refugee women call for government to walk with them
"We are refugees who came to Australia seeking safety, but after a decade still do not have a clear pathway to permanent residency," she said, arriving in Canberra on Wednesday.
"I lost my first child because of the Sri Lankan civil war and I haven't seen my mother for 18 years.
"It breaks my heart that my mother is living alone and I cannot reunite with my family" (Osborne 2023)
20 October 2023
The legal loophole that nearly broke Australia's asylum seeker system
While arrivals by boat tend to capture the headlines, the vast majority of asylum seekers arrive by plane and make their claim onshore.
Processing times for such applications take, on average, more than two years.
When combined with appeals in various courts and tribunals, it can take close to a decade for a case for protection to be fully exhausted.
A recent review of Australia's migration system by former Victorian police chief Christine Nixon found serious, systemic and widespread problems in Australia's visa system.
That includes abuse of the protection visa process — with "bad actors" lodging baseless claims for asylum, knowing they will be eventually rejected (Manfield 2023).
24 October 2023
Whistleblower claims Australian funds for asylum seeker welfare in PNG ‘gone missing’
The Australian-sponsored program to care for refugees exiled to Papua New Guinea has been riven by corruption, fraud and nepotism, a whistleblower within the PNG government’s immigration authority has alleged in a complaint sent to the country’s prime minister, James Marape.
The whistleblower also claimed that police investigations into corruption within the PNG immigration and citizenship authority (ICA) were abandoned under political pressure not to investigate.
The whistleblower, a current employee of the ICA, alleged there was documentary evidence supporting claims “the Australian taxpayer funding allocation for the management of refugees under the PNG Humanitarian Program has been depleted or gone missing”.
But PNG’s chief migration officer, Stanislau Hulahau, has rejected the allegations as malicious (Doherty 2023).
26 October 2023
The whistleblower who exposed Australia’s secretive offshore detention system
"Simone" arrived on a remote island to help asylum seekers.
But she witnessed something there that convinced her to leak over 2000 documents.
Reporters Paul Farrell and Maddison Conaughton investigate what happened (Farrell & Connaughton 2023).
Doherty, Ben 2023, Whistleblower claims Australian funds for asylum seeker welfare in PNG ‘gone missing’, The Guardian, 24 October 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/24/australian-funds-for-asylum-seeker-welfare-in-png-gone-missing-whistleblower-papua-new-guinea
Farrell & Connaughton, The whistleblower who exposed Australia’s secretive offshore detention system, ABC Listen, 28 October 2023. https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/backgroundbriefing/the-whistleblower-who-exposed-australia-s-secretive-offshore/103027444
Lucadou-Wells, Cam 2023, Lost for a decade, Star Journal, 18 October 2023, https://dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/news/2023-10-10/lost-for-a-decade/
Manfield & Lowrey 2023, The legal loophole that nearly broke Australia's asylum seeker system, ABC News, 20 October 2023, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-20/legal-loophole-that-nearly-broke-australia-asylum-seeker-system/102945350
Osborne, Paul 2023, Refugee women call for government to walk with them, ABC News, 18 October 2023, https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8391518/refugee-women-call-for-government-to-walk-with-them/
Vikhrov, 2023, Hundreds of asylum seekers rally in Canberra, call on government to grant them permanent visas, The Canberra Times, 18 October 2023, https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8389437/hundreds-of-asylum-seekers-rally-in-canberra-call-on-government-to-grant-them-permanent-visas/