The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) refutes claims that our recent submission reviewing Australia’s Migration System said “the backlogs facilitated spurious applications for protection from people who could reside in the country for years because of protracted processes”. These reports come after quotes from RCOA’s submission were cherry-picked, without speaking to anyone in RCOA, by media outlets to give rise to misinterpretation of the real issues caused by Australia’s migration system.
Our submission highlighted a number of recommendations, including how to:
- Embed a principle-driven migration system guided by positive political leadership
- Unlock the potential of humanitarian migration
- Overcome the barriers that people from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds face in the labour market
- Finally remove the link between the overseas and onshore protection programs (thus ensuring there are permanent visas for people needing safety)
- Address worker exploitation
- Find an alternative pathway for people in Australia living in uncertainty
The submission was written in consultation with the wider refugee sector and addresses several issues, including how the current backlog in processing asylum claims is causing significant stress and anxiety for those waiting. We included detailed information about the harm caused by the current system and noted some of the root causes of the backlog, including the numerical link between the onshore protection program and Australia’s offshore Humanitarian program.
Our analysis of the statistics and timeframes demonstrated the inadequacies of the current system, and the line singled out by the media outlets was couched in a broader analysis of the real risks of worker exploitation, modern slavery, and wage theft faced by people on short-term bridging visas.
Importantly, our recommendations to reform the migration system align with the wider refugee sector: increase and train staff, increase funding to the review body, and ensure access to funded, high-quality legal advice to help people navigate the application process.
It is disappointing that the premise of the submission is misconstrued, and the context of the situation ignored. The real issue, which is the focus of RCOA’s submission, is that Australia’s migration system is putting people at risk of exploitation, not that people are exploiting the migration system. RCOA stands by its submission and urges misquotes be corrected. This misinformation has harmful consequences and distracts from the united calls for reform to address delays in the system which make people with insecure visas vulnerable to exploitation.
We invite journalists to contact us directly in the future to clarify our position on these important issues.
Read more on our submission.