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Australia’s asylum policies

Living on the margins

People living on bridging visas must renew them from time to time. One of the changes the government also introduced was that anyone who got this visa also had to sign a Code of Behaviour which, if they breached it, would be grounds for returning them to detention. The Code of Behaviour extends to a very broad range of behaviour, even to perceived online bullying or harassment, and the decision that there is a breach is not subject to any kind of formal process or review. This has created a climate of fear among communities.

As well, there are practical difficulties involved with bridging visas. Often, people on bridging visas find that their bridging visas are not renewed in time for administrative reasons, meaning they are left in the community without lawful status. This means they cannot access Medicare and cannot be lawfully employed. A common cause of this is that, for some groups of people seeking asylum, the Minister must personally make the decision to allow them to re-apply, which causes the delay.

Since 2015, most people on these visas have been allowed to work, but they were not given this right before this and were not given any real form of employment support. The visas are also confusing to employers and, because they are often for short terms, mean many are forced into low-wage and exploitative employment.

Most recently, the Australian Government has been drastically cutting the meagre support it offers to people seeking asylum who cannot otherwise survive, under the Status Resolution Support Services program. These cuts are already throwing highly vulnerable people into destitution, with more cuts to come in 2019.

With empty hands: How the Australian Government is forcing people seeking asylum into destitution

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