In this submission, we express our concerns the proposed amendments in the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017 will further disadvantage newly arrived communities in finding employment. Refugees often face difficulties in gaining employment due to structural barriers, including those created by federally funded employment programs, such as the Jobactive Program. This submission will provide an overview of the failure of the proposed amendments to social services legislation, including the Jobactive program, to meet the needs of refugee communities.
Three years to the day after the Australian Government’s ill-considered attempt to change the processing of refugees applications, more than 17,000 people remain languishing in despair.
The so called ‘fast-track’ legislation, passed on December 5, 2014, established Australia as an outlier in international law by changing the definition of how Australia defines a refugee, and provided unparalleled powers to the Immigration Minister while removing the right to an independent review hearing.
Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia said, “The Government’s fast track law has been disastrous for refugees, for Australian society and for thousands of families. This poorly designed law has never been fair and is clearly not fast. Fast-track has been a remarkable failure.
“Of the 30,000 people who have been waiting to get an assurance of safety from the Australian Government by processing their refugee applications, more than half still remain stuck in a bureaucratic limbo”, Mr Power said.
“Despite the Immigration Minister’s many attempts to vilify people whose asylum claims are being considered under this unfair process, 78 per cent of those cases finalised have been found to be refugees.
“In many cases these people have been living in Australia now for more than five years, and still so many of them remain languishing in uncertainty. This uncertainty is psychological torture, discourages the integration of people to be contributing members of our society and keeps fathers, mothers and children apart. As the government is assessing people’s need to be protected from persecution, it is essential that their applications for refugee status should be considered in a careful and timely manner,” Mr Power said.
- The Government’s ‘fast track process’ was meant to finalise processing all applications by December 2018. As at 1 November, the Department has made a decision on less than half of those applications (of a total of 30,781 cases, just 13,629 applications have been finalised)
- More than 17,000 people are still waiting decisions on their applications.
- The Department has so far granted refugee status to 78% of the people whose claims have been processed(DIBP Table 6)
- The removal of a merits review process independent of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has substantially reduced the rate at which DIBP decisions are being overturned.. Where the previous independent process overturned DIBP decisions on more than 75% of cases for Afghan, Iraq and Iranian nationals, that rate has now dropped to 20-30%.
For more or interview information contact Samuel Dariol: 0488 035 535