Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside the Sydney office of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to demand an overhaul of policies impacting those seeking asylum. Source: SBS News.
Temporary protection visa (TPV) holders were among the crowd calling on the Morrison Government to overhaul the visa process by speeding up the transition to permanent residency.
Advocates argue the current process is threatening to tear families apart, with TPV and Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) recipients forced to reapply for their permits after several years.
Rusul’s husband has been found a genuine refugee and currently lives in Australia on a SHEV – but the risk of future deportation threatens to tear their family apart.
“We’re not settled, we don’t know what is going to happen in the future, we don’t know if we have to shift countries. Now we have a baby we can’t just go back (to Iraq) … it probably means a family breakup if he doesn’t get permanent residency,” Rasul said.
“We’ve been here for a long time. We’ve finished our university. I can never imagine going back and living in Iraq, you go shopping and you don’t know if you’ll make it home. I hope justice is served.”
Refugee groups are also demanding the Home Affairs office rethink current policies which block visa holders from making efforts to bring their family to Australia.
Bridging visas and temporary visas have been widely criticised for the damaging effects they have on holders, and the department has previously been accused of “strategically” using the process to deny protection.
The Guardian reports that about 30,000 people are in Australia on TPVs and SHEVs, which only grant three- or five-years residency,
They have access to limited social security benefits, Medicare, counselling, and work rights – although Shev holders must study or work in regional Australia. Once it expires they must have their refugee claim reassessed.
Since last year the government has been stripping support services from the holders of the six-month bridging visas, prompting warnings it would send some into destitution and homelessness.
The government maintains that temporary protection visas are one of the “three pillars” of its border protection policy, along with boat turnbacks and offshore processing.