Urgent request: “legacy caseload” refugees

NSWCCL is asking its members, as a matter of urgency, to contact the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, and/or the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke, asking for more time for members of the legacy caseload to submit updated applications for asylum, before their cases are heard.  

1,100 asylum seekers, members of the so-called “legacy caseload” have been waiting a long time to have their applications for protection visas dealt with—some as long as eight years.   

Suddenly, the Government has announced that all their cases are going to be dealt with by June 30.  They are being given 14 days, all the law requires, from the time of their notifications to that of their interviews.    

This is an arbitrary and unnecessary timeframe that is likely to compromise fairness and deny justice.  Community legal centres are overwhelmed by a surge in demand, which will mean that some applicants will not be able to obtain legal assistance.    

Because they are being dealt with by the fast-track process, applicants who are denied visas will not have appeals on the merits to the Administrative Appeals Committee’s Migration Refugee Division, but only to the Immigration Assessment Authority.  Such reviews are on the papers only—there is no interview, with the asylum seeker able to clarify anything in his/her application, and no additional material can be submitted except in exceptional circumstances.  This means that their applications, due so suddenly, are crucial.  Their lives depend upon their success.  The assistance of lawyers is vital.    

They did all put in applications for asylum by October 2017, when the Government implemented a “lodge or leave” deadline.   But many need fresh evidence to show changes in their family composition, their health, or the situation in their home countries.   A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs is reported to have said that applicants could have updated their claims at any time after 2017.  This, though true, is unreasonable.  They could not have guessed that they would be treated in this fashion.  

NSWCCL encourages members to send urgent appeals to:

  • The Hon. Karen Andrews
    Minister for Home Affairs 
    Email [email protected] 
    Parliament phone (02) 6277 7860   
    PO Box 409, Varsity Lakes QLD 4227   
    Phone (07) 5580 9111 
    Or go to karenandrewsmp.com.au and fill in the form.  

  • The Hon Alex Hawke
    Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs,  Email [email protected]   
    PO Box 1173
    Castle Hill, NSW, 1765   
    Telephone (02) 9899 7211 
    OR PO Box 6022
    House of Representatives
    Parliament House
    Canberra ACT 2600 
    Telephone (02) 6277 7770 
    Or go to alexhawke.com.au and fill in the form.  

 

Martin Bibby  
Co-convenor, Asylum Seekers Action Group  
NSW Council for Civil Liberties