Amnesty invited a panel of experts to the Wesley Theatre on 7 May 14 to address two important questions:
What is the impact of Australia’s current approach on asylum seekers? and
What are the legal implications on an international scale? And what could we be doing instead?
Jo Murphy from the NSWCCL addressed the effect of the punitive government policies on the rights and lives of the 40,000 odd asylum seekers currently living in the Australian community.
For the last 4 years, Jo Murphy has represented asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat, seeking the protection of the Australian government.
She described the challenges faced by her clients including:
- the delay to processing of asylum seekers’ claims
- their uncertain future and resulting anxiety about their own lives and those of their families they left behind
- the recently introduced Code of Behaviour
- the disproportionate treatment of asylum seekers with respect to Australia law
- the impact of the Lack of work rights
- the cut to funded legal aid to asylum seekers (IAAAS) and
- the denial of family reunion.
Approximately 33,000 asylum seekers have not even had their claims processed, barely survive without work rights, are denied access to migration advice, and are under enormous anxiety because of their uncertain future. The remaining 7,000 or so arrived before the government stopped processing claims. They have been found to be refugees and are owed Australia’s protection, but are suffering because of the policy changes which will deny them a permanent visa.