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Submission to the Inquiry into the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014

This submission expresses Jesuit Social Services’ serious concerns about the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 (‘the Bill’).

We oppose the Bill and urge its rejection. We believe that the Bill denies people basic human rights and will place vulnerable people at serious risk of harm or death.

Our four main areas of serious concern include:

  • the removal of references/adherence to the Refugee Convention
  • the limitations imposed on judicial reviews
  • the re-introduction of temporary protection visas
  • the cap on the number of protection visas.

We call upon our Government to adhere to the following principles in all policy and legislation relating to people seeking asylum:

  1. Australia should continue to work within the region and international context to lead a more humane, ordered response to processing the claims of people seeking asylum.
  2. All asylum seekers who make a claim on Australia must be processed with respect for their human dignity demanded by the UNHCR Convention on the Status of Refugees. Their claims for protection should be processed promptly and fairly.
  3. The principles of deterrence, by which the members of one group of people who have come to Australia to seek protection are treated harshly in order to modify the behaviour of others, should form no part of Australian policy.
  4. People seeking asylum should not be referred to as ‘illegal’ or in other derogatory terms.
  5. People who come to Australia to seek protection should not be transferred from Australian territory to other nations for processing or protection unless there is a firm regional agreement assuring that they will have appropriate rights and support in the countries to which they are transferred, and that they will be promptly resettled if found to be refugees.
  6. Arbitrary or indefinite detention at any stage of the refugee determination process is unacceptable.
  7. People who seek asylum should live in the Australian community. Respect for their humanity demands that they have the right to work, access to basic services, and to some financial support if they cannot find work. The financial burden of their support should be accepted by the Government and not be shifted to the community sector.
    Children should not be held in detention in Australia or in offshore detention centres, but housed in the Australian community with the full range of services necessary for their welfare.
  8. Young unaccompanied children and adults, families with children and those with mental and physical health issues should also be carefully supported when living in the community.
  9. People should have the opportunity to be reunited with separated close family members promptly once they are found to be refugees.
  10. Those who have exhausted all appeals against rejection of their claims but who cannot be returned to their countries should not be compelled by destitution to return in keeping with the principle of non-refoulement.

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