The Refugee Council urges Federal Parliamentarians to support this Bill to evacuate people held in offshore processing to safety while they wait for a durable solution. This Bill sets out a constructive option, consistent with the policy settings of the Albanese Labor Government, which would ensure that people are able to get the medical treatment and mental health support that they require. This Bill will compel the Government to offer transfer to Australia to all persons subject to offshore processing still in Papua New Guinea (PNG) or Nauru who are not subject to an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
Those people who accept the Government’s offer would be transferred to Australia and placed in community detention, where they will remain until they are provided with a durable third-country solution with a state party to the United Nations’ 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.
The 140 people who remain on Nauru and in PNG have spent almost 10 years suffering in inhumane conditions, separated from their families and starved of hope for the future. We have been advocating constantly with the Australian Government to urgently transfer individuals with significant and serious medical conditions. The physical and mental health conditions of people in this situation present an overwhelming case for their transfer to Australia for urgent care.
The Bill ensures that people transferred would meet all security clearances and would be in Australia while third country resettlement options are progressed. This is line with the ALP’s position to negotiate third country resettlement options and its desire to reduce the number of people held in offshore processing places to zero by the end of 2023.
The legislation outlines a straightforward way in which the remaining people can be brought to Australia and supported while they continue to wait for a durable solution. Since July 2013, when the Australian Government announced that no one who arrived by boat would settle in Australia, 3,000 people have been subjected to this abhorrent policy. People subject to this have experienced assault, harassment, rape, abuse, and 15 people have died, including by murder, suicide and medical negligence.
Australia has spent over $9.5 billion dollars in the past decade to warehouse people in remote islands, removed from our sight but not from the hearts of millions of Australians. It is time to bring them to safety and we urge all Parliamentarians to support this Bill.