The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia has been inundated by calls from its members expressing grave concern over new proposed changes to the Migration Act (the Asylum Legacy Caseload Bill), and the further blow the amendments would strike to one of the most ostracised and vulnerable groups in our community.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon, said: “The work of our members and the fate of refugees are inextricably linked. Along with other organisations, we provide emergency assistance in the form of food, housing and furniture to refugees, who often receive little or no assistance from the government. We will not stand by silently while our friends suffer untold distress and mental anguish.”
The Society urges Senators to reconsider their support for the Bill, which if passed by the Senate in its current form would see the reintroduction of TPVs and a new visa called a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV). Neither visa would allow for permanent settlement in Australia, leaving refugees in a state of uncertainty about their futures, and unable to reunite with their families.
“We urge Senators to restore fairness in the treatment of refugees, by taking heed of the Refugee Council of Australia’s (RCOA) recommended modifications to TPVs and SHEVs that could reduce the harm of this Bill. This includes allowing refugees to ultimately apply for a Permanent Protection Visa, enabling family reunion – a human right, and providing all refugees with access to the full suite of settlement services and the right to work, especially those people who relocate to regional towns under the SHEV scheme,” Dr Falzon said.
“It is time”, he added, “that we as a nation rejected the politics of cruelty rather than rejecting people who seek refuge.”