Five years too long: Background information

Fifth Anniversary of the Resettlement Ban and Reopening of offshore detention centres
Evacuate Now – Bring the Refugees to Safety

Background Information

The Rudd announcement, made under the pressure of an impending election (which he was generally expected to lose), added a new turn of the screw to the Howard-era “Pacific Solution” policies.
Successive governments under Tony Abbott and Malclom Turnbull, have not only continued this policy, but have increased the harshness of conditions in the island camps in order to pressure people to return to unsafe situations in their homelands.

Five years on, over 939 refugees and asylum seekers, including 137 children, still languish on Nauru, and almost 700 men are marooned on Manus Island with no clear path to safe resettlement. These people have been processed and most are recognised as bona fide refugees. As PM Turnbull admitted to President Trump, “the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people who come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in.”

Because of the political deadlock created by Rudd’s announcement and sustained by the Abbott and Turnbull Governments, in the past five years 11 refugees have died in detention, victims of despair, inadequate medical attention and the insecurity of their environment.

The costs of the offshore “solution” approaches $5bn. This excludes the $70m, plus costs, paid to settle a class action brought by detainees. Furthermore, Australia’s reputation as a nation that respects human rights continues to suffer.

Under the original “Pacific Solution” between 2001 and 2008, it was eventually possible to resettle 1,153 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru. Of these, 35% went to New Zealand 5% to other developed countries and 70% were eventually resettled in Australia.

Today, with access to Australia and New Zealand ruled out, the only developed country option is an uncertain deal made with the Obama administration in 2016. President Trump has so far resettled just 268 people in the US, with another 97 also accepted to go. But America will never take all of those needing resettlement even if its quota of 1250 is met in full. Their ban on refugees from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Syria means there are hundreds on Nauru and Manus who are barred from the US. Other northern hemisphere countries are coping with refugee flows far greater than those in our region and cannot be expected to help us. This leaves only PNG and Cambodia as officially sanctioned destinations, neither of which can provide the safe and supportive environment necessary for successful resettlement.

Additional Information here:
June 2018
Nov 2017
August 2017
August 2016

Dutton’s unfair protection visa application deadline

Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, recently announced that any people seeking asylum who have not yet submitted their protection visa application must do so by October 1 or they will lose their right to apply for refuge, and will be deported back to the countries they fled. This applies to thousands of people.

What is unfair about this? 

  • These people had been prevented for years from submitting applications, until recently when the government began allowing them to apply on invitation only.
  • The application process is particularly complicated, and people need skilled legal support.
  • Some people did not receive their invitations until October last year, and by then refugee legal services had thousands of people on their waiting lists.
  • The government has withdrawn funding for legal services to assist people seeking asylum.  Many services have to do their own fundraising to cover the costs of lawyers to assist the huge number of people needing legal assistance.
  • People who have been contributing to their local communities for years, patiently waiting to apply for protection visas, could deported back to serious danger.
  • Everyone deserves a fair process to have their case for refuge considered.  Minister Dutton is denying people of this.

ARAN is calling for all refugee advocacy and activist groups across the nation to take action in their local communities.   Suggested actions include:

  • Sign and circulate the GetUp petition widely
  • Hold a public protest, focusing on the lack of fairness and due process in the protection visa application process
  • Meet with your local MP, taking along a copy of the application form (866 or 790 form on the Border Force website) to discuss the complex nature of the application process
  • Use the pages of an 866 form or 790 form as the basis for some creative actions (display them outside MP’s offices, set up a form-filling challenge, use them to make a display or art installation etc.)
  • Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, using some of the points above to highlight the injustice of Dutton’s announcement
  • Call your local talkback radio station when anything relevant (refugees, immigration, legal aid etc.) is being discussed
  • Write letters and emails, and make calls, to local MPs, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, The Prime Minister and Shadow Minister Shayne Neumann:

Hon Peter Dutton MP
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
Parliament House
Canberra    2600
Phone: (02) 6277 7860 (Canberra)

Hon Shayne Neumann MP
Shadow Minister for Immigration
Parliament House
Canberra    2600
Phone: (02) 6277 4755 (Canberra)

Find contact details for your local MP here:

Read the ABC’s report here

UNHCR – The 10 Point Plan in Action

UNHCR has developed the 10-Point Plan of Action on Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration to assist governments and others with incorporating protection considerations into migration policies.

A core strategy document, it outlines 10 areas of work that UNHCR believes need to be undertaken in order to address mixed migration effectively.

Showcasing good practices, the Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration: 10-Point Plan in Action provides examples of how different stakeholders have made use of the 10-Point Plan as a strategic tool to inform the development of immigration and asylum systems and to improve their operational responses.

It includes an extensive collection of recent operational practices, protection-sensitive tools and strategies to assist States and others in developing and implementing protection-sensitive responses that take into account the needs of refugees and migrants travelling within mixed flows as well as sovereignty considerations and the concerns of states.

Read more here

Senate Report: Serious allegations

Serious allegations of abuse, self-harm and neglect of asylum seekers in relation to the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, and any like allegations in relation to the Manus Regional Processing Centre

21 April 2017

© Commonwealth of Australia 2017
ISBN 978-1-76010-563-1

A substantial part of this report is devoted to recording the high number of incident reports made public through the publication of ‘the Nauru files’,1 and supported by evidence from submitters to this inquiry.

View the report as a single document – (PDF 1933KB)

Call to Action

Australian Refugee Action Network – Call to Action – NOW
ARAN (Australian Refugee Action Network) is calling for refugee action and advocacy groups across Australia to participate in some kind of action, from now until Monday March 13, to demand that this new policy be abandoned.


You may have heard that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection recently sent letters to some people on Bridging Visas to advise that, unless they lodge their protection visa applications within 14 – 30 days, they may lose their right to asylum. Human rights lawyer David Manne has called this approach ‘draconian and dangerous’. (…/draconian-and-dangerous-despair-ove…)

The government has forced people onto waiting lists for legal support by:
1) Developing protection visa application forms which cannot be adequately completed without legal assistance (the forms are very complex, and incomplete information can mean that claims for asylum are rejected)
2) Removing funding for refugee legal support services
3) Banning anyone from submitting an application for four years, and then suddenly expecting more than 25,000 people to complete their applications all at once
4) Failing to process, in a timely manner, the Freedom of Information requests needed to access records that are crucial for applications

The letters state that those who receive them, must submit their protection visa applications within 14 – 30 days, otherwise they
– Will lose their income support
– May not be issued with another Bridging Visa
– May lose their work rights and Medicare
– May lose access to other services and support
– May be prevented from being allowed to submit an application for a protection visa at all – This is a grave injustice which would result in people being deported to unsafe places, and being at risk of further persecution and even death.

ARAN (Australian Refugee Action Network) is calling for refugee action and advocacy groups across Australia to participate in some kind of action, from now until Monday March 13, to demand that this new policy be abandoned.


Contact MPs:
– Call and/or email Peter Dutton
Phone: (07) 3205 9977 (Strathpine) or (02) 6277 7860 (Canberra) Email:

– Call and/or email Malcolm Turnbull
Phone: (02) 6277 7700 (Canberra) or (02) 9327 3988 (Wentworth)

– Call or phone your local MP. You can find their details via this link, by entering your postcode…/Parliamentarian_Search_Results…

Visit your local MP
– Request a meeting to discuss this issue. It’s vital that local MPs understand what is happening, and hear our concerns. If your local MP is a Labor member, we suggest you ask that Labor publicly oppose this measure.

Organise a rally or protest
– This could be outside your local MP’s office, or at another community venue. Perhaps print copies of the 866 or 790 forms and use these as props/posters for your action.

People should not be penalised for a problem that that the government has created. Not allowing people time to access appropriate legal support is a denial of natural justice.

Emergency Appeal – #KeepThemSafe

All Refugee Legal Services in Australia are facing the difficulty of trying to assist people urgently given the Government’s recent crack down on people seeking asylum.

Refugee legal services in Australia:

URGENT – Act Now
This week the Turnbull government launched an unprecedented attack on people seeking asylum who after waiting over 4 years to apply for asylum, now only have as little as 30 days to lodge their refugee application.

It gets worse. If people don’t lodge their application in time, the government has threatened to take away their right to apply for asylum in Australia – something no other country has ever done.

Refugee legal services across Australia are urgently appealing to you to help us fund lawyers in order to keep the people safe.

To act now, contat one of these groups – and donate:

asrc-3 racs   refugee-legal-1  humanitarian-group-1    tas-refugee-legal-1  rassa-1

RCOA: The State of the Nation

State of the Nation 2017: Refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia


Sign Welcome Refugees at rally


The world is in the midst of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Yet Australia’s approach in recent years has been to punish people seeking asylum, while increasing the numbers of refugees it resettles. This contrasting approach threatens the long and proud history Australia has of successful integration of refugee communities.

This report reflects what we have heard from refugees and people seeking asylum, and the people supporting them. We thank all of the people who contributed to this report.

Read the full report here

IMPORTANT – Applying for a SHEV

Safe Haven Enterprise visaSHEV

There are two types of protection visas available for people who arrived in Australia seeking asylum: Temporary Protection visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Enterprise visas (SHEVs).

Extract from Information provided by the Combined Refugee Action Group (CRAG) – 18 Feb 2017

If you are an asylum seeker in Australia


1. You haven’t told DIBP (Immigration) that you are working on your visa application


2. You didn’t receive an invitation letter asking you to apply for a TPV or a SHEV

This information says that if DIBP don’t hear from you, then they will assume that you don’t want to apply for protection anymore.

You can call Immigration, or email and give:

  • your name
  • client identification number
  • boat identification number; and
  • the reason why you haven’t lodged an application yet.

Please, everyone check with their friends about this and make sure that they have either submitted their application, or have notified DIBP that they are working on it.

And sorry about the use of the word ‘illegal’ – You have a perfectly legal right to be here and the government knows it.

From the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website

Failure to lodge a visa application and maintain contact with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will be taken as an indication that you no longer intend to seek protection in Australia.

This might affect your support services, including income support and could also impact your Bridging visa.

IMAs who do not lodge a TPV or SHEV application are expected to leave Australia.

Read more at:

Applying for a SHEV

If you have not yet made a valid application for a protection visa

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has lifted the application bar for the vast majority of IMAs in Australia and invited them to apply for a Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) in Australia.

IMAs are now expected to lodge an application for a TPV or a SHEV to present their claims for protection and resolve their status in Australia.

IMAs who have not received their invitation to apply letter are not prevented from lodging an application.

Failure to lodge a visa application and maintain contact with us will be taken as an indication that you no longer intend to seek protection in Australia. This might affect your support services, including income support and could also impact your Bridging visa. IMAs who do not lodge a TPV or SHEV application are expected to leave Australia.

If you are unable to lodge an application immediately, you must contact us and provide the reasons why, and include your client and boat identification numbers, name and date of birth.

Make sure that you have provided your most recent address and other contact details to us by calling 1300 728 662 with your name, date of birth, boat identification number, home address and contact phone number.

Information on how to apply and the application forms are located in the Protection Application Information Guides.

If you want to apply for a SHEV, you will then need to complete and lodge the SHEV application form (form 790—Application for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa). Do not lodge a TPV application form (form 866—Application for a protection visa) if you want a SHEV.

Do not lodge applications for both a SHEV and a TPV. If you do, only the SHEV application will be processed.

It is important for you to keep your contact details current with us. This includes the address where you live and your phone number so we can contact you with important information about your immigration status. Remember, this is also a condition of holding a bridging visa and being able to live in the community

Read more at:


Workplace health and safety in immigration detention under the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth)

Copyright © Australian Lawyers Alliance 2016.

For media enquiries, please contact Nick Buchan, Media Manager at

(02) 9258 7700

2016 Untold Damage - Lawyers Alliance

Executive summary

The federal regulator of Commonwealth workplaces, Comcare, has been the watchdog of immigration detention facilities in Australia and regional processing centres (‘RPCs’) in Nauru and Manus Island for many years.

The Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (‘WHS Act’) places a statutory duty of care upon the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (‘DIBP’) as the legal person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU), to ensure the health and safety of workers and ‘other persons’ such as detainees. A duty of care also exists at common law.

This duty extends to identifying, eliminating or minimising risks to health and safety, and reporting ‘notifiable incidents’ (as defined in the WHS Act) to Comcare. Comcare in turn is obliged to investigate incidents and make recommendations to increase health and safety. It also has enforcement powers.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (‘ALA’) applied under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) to unearth details of what the DIBP has been reporting to Comcare from FY2013 – 2015.

This Report details both what was, and was not, reported to Comcare, and how these reports were investigated.

What we found

  • Inconsistencies exist in the reporting of incidents by the DIBP and the investigation of incidents by Comcare.
  • The phrase ‘arising out of the conduct of the business or undertaking’, the key phrase that underpins Comcare’s investigations, is unclear. This means that some injuries and incidents are not adequately investigated and opportunities to improve workplace health and safety are missed.
  • Evidence suggests that prosecutions of the DIBP and/or relevant contractors may be appropriate for some breaches of legislation that have occurred in immigration detention.
  • The DIBP and Comcare appear to seriously misunderstand the nature of some injuries and illnesses, meaning threats to workplace health and safety are not responded to. This is particularly the case in relation to sexual misconduct and mental health.
  • Inadequate data collection means that health and safety for vulnerable groups does not receive adequate attention.
  • A lack of basic necessities poses a risk to health and safety but there is no mechanism for Comcare to investigate this.
  • There are obstacles to reporting threats to workplace health and safety, in relation to workers employed by contractors and responses to complaints by the DIBP. These obstacles have been exacerbated by the Border Force Act 2015 (Cth).
  • Evidence provided by whistle-blowers and the DIBP itself to the parliamentary inquiries into Nauru and Manus Island indicates gross inconsistencies in the number of incidents reported, suggesting under-reporting of incidents to Comcare.

A duty of care exists

  • The DIBP has asserted that it provides only a supporting role to the governments of Nauru and Papua New Guinea in relation to RPCs. This does not absolve the DIBP from its responsibilities under the WHS Act or other legislation and case law that provides for extraterritorial application. It is clear that the DIBP has accepted that it has a duty to ensure health and safety in RPCs under the WHS Act.
  • The WHS Act has clear provisions regarding the duties binding the DIBP, including relevant penalties for failure to comply.

Read the full report here

Lawyers want PMs from John Howard to Malcolm Turnbull in dock over asylum detention

by Heath Aston in SMH – 14 Nov 2016

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Immigration Minister Peter Dutton (right) has suffered constant, often vicious attacks.

Every Australian prime minister from John Howard onwards should be investigated for crimes against humanity in relation to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers, according to a group of international lawyers.

The group of seven British, American and Australian lawyers, which includes high-profile barrister and refugee advocate Julian Burnside, has petitioned the International Criminal Court to investigate the treatment of asylum seekers by successive governments, beginning with John Howard’s.

A 52-page communique names Mr Howard, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, claiming they have knowingly breached the Rome Statute of the court.

“Those breaches involve the indefinite detention of asylum seekers who have committed no offence and regardless of their age or health or sex,” the communique states. “The breaches also include forcible removal of asylum seekers to Pacific Island countries where they are detained and seriously mistreated, for the stated purpose of ‘stopping the boats’: that is, deterring people from seeking asylum in Australia.”

Read full article here