Home General News “It’s time to provide permanent protection to people on TPVs,” ​​Christian leaders tell Morrison and Albanian

“It’s time to provide permanent protection to people on TPVs,” ​​Christian leaders tell Morrison and Albanian

by ervte

Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh Faiths Leaders Unite to Urge Political Leaders “It’s Time to Offer People on TPVs [Temporary Protection Visas] permanent protection” in the run-up to Australia’s 2022 federal election.

The group has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Anthony Albanese to support a “more unifying and compassionate national policy” on the issue.

“To raise the issue with caution,” as they are “aware of the fraught discussion of such matters in past federal elections,” the group says they “must speak because compassion and concern for others are universal values shared by all major faith traditions”.

"It's time to provide permanent protection to people on TPVs," ​​Christian leaders tell Morrison and Albanian

“As people of faith, we bring this perspective to our consideration of all things, including public policies around the protection of refugees and those seeking asylum,” the diverse group writes.

They note that there are three policies they have advocated and welcomed recent changes for releasing most Medevac refugees from hotel detention, movement on resettlement plans in New Zealand, and an increase in the number of Afghan refugees receiving protection.

“We now speak, related, out of deep concern about the current divisions between the two major parties over the issue of temporary protection visas,” they write. “These TPVs serve no public policy purpose and have lost community support since their introduction two decades ago.”

The group writes from a position of knowing and caring for people who have lived with what they describe as the “stressful uncertainty of TPVs in communities around Australia”.

“We hear their prayers and know their fears. After taking refuge, they want to belong and contribute. With their family and friends, they are part of community groups and neighborhoods. Many have found jobs, worked hard, paid taxes, and embraced Australia as their home.”

As the global pandemic has allowed people to rethink what to value and prioritize, faith leaders claim:

“There is a wonderful opportunity for our political leaders to embrace a group of people who want to establish their roots, build lives and work hard for the best future of Australia. Like generations of migrants and refugees before them, this group will become an integral part of the Australian story.”

What happens if people now come to Australia to apply for asylum?

Under Australia’s current immigration policy, people seeking asylum are treated differently depending on how they arrived here.

People arriving by plane can apply for a Permanent Protection Visa (PPV). This includes people who come to Australia to apply for asylum (no visa allows them to apply for asylum before coming to Australia) and people who want to apply for asylum after coming to Australia with a valid passport, for example, if a student or tourist. This can happen because conditions in their home country change while they are in Australia. (See The Refugee Council for more information).

Asylum seekers who come to Australia by boat cannot apply for a Permanent Protection Visa because they cannot settle in Australia.

Instead, they are being held offshore on Nauru and Manus Island while their applications are being processed. From there, they will be sent back home if their application is rejected or resettled in a third country if they are granted refugee status.

The Legacy Caseload

In December 2014, the Abbott government, under the then Immigration Secretary, Scott Morrison, amended Australia’s migration processes to ensure that people arriving by boat without a valid visa were no longer eligible for a permanent protection visa.

Some people seeking safety in Australia became entangled in the law change. They became known as the “legacy caseload” and included three groups: 1. Individuals who applied for asylum by sea between August 2012 and December 2013 (approximately 24,500 individuals)2. People who have applied for asylum by sea for this period but have not completed their application for protection (about 6000 people)3. Children born in these families

Instead of applying for a PPV, this group could only apply for two types of visas: a three-year Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or a five-year Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV).

TPVs were first introduced to Australia by the Howard administration in October 1999 and abolished by the Rudd administration in August 2008. About 11,000 TPVs were issued between 1999 and 2007, and about 90 percent of TPV holders eventually received a permanent visa.

The Abbott government reintroduced TPVs and SHEVs in December 2014.

Who is now affected by TPVs and SHEVs?

As of December 2021, some 31,000 people have been subjected to this arbitrary and punitive system. Nearly 19,000 people live on temporary visas (TPV or SHEV), and 9,500 had their applications rejected. There are still about 2,643 people whose applications are still under review after ten years.

To be eligible for a TPV, an individual or family member must meet Australian protection obligations and all other visa requirements, such as health, character, identity, and security checks. TPVs can be awarded for up to three years, and holders have the right to work, study and access government services such as Centrelink. However, TPV holders are not entitled to family reunification.

An applicant for an RWA must require the protection of Australia and must intend to work or study in regional Australia.

To stay in Australia for over three years, one must apply for another TPV or SHEV.

TPV holders can transfer to a five-year SHEV if they agree to move to a regional area (as defined by government regulations), study at a recognized institution (as defined by government regulations), or take up employment. This means they are not dependent on income support for more than 18 months in five years.

What’s wrong with TPVs and SHEVs?

People with TPVs and SHEVs do not have the same access to services, rights, and residency or citizenship processes as refugees with a (permanent) protection visa – simply because of their mode of transport to Australia, regardless of the validity of their claim. That means a person from the legacy caseload who cannot return home and with a real reason to seek safety in Australia cannot apply for a PPV simply because they arrived on a boat.

While an RWA theoretically offers a narrow path to permanent residency, the eligibility requirements are so strict that the industry deems it functionally impossible for nearly anyone applying. There is currently only one known case of someone successfully obtaining a permanent visa through the SHEV pathway.

In addition, there are concerns that RWA is not a viable option for refugees with physical or mental disabilities or who cannot work, such as young adults or those who arrived in Australia as unaccompanied minors. According to the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Center for International Refugee Law, regional farming groups have also noted that seasonal farm work does not necessarily guarantee employment for RWA holders.

In the 2022 election guide, A Fairer Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society gives this summary of the problem with TPVs:

“In the accelerated process, nearly 19,000 people have been considered refugees but have only been given temporary visas. They cannot return home, nor are they able to settle permanently in Australia or reunite with their families. Many have lived here for eight to twelve years. When temporary visas expire, cases are reassessed, and people are at risk of having their claims rejected. Years of insecurity, disconnection from social networks and family, and poor living conditions lead to high mental health problems. Their permanent arrangement would bring $6.75 billion to the Australian economy in five years.”

Similarly, in A Blueprint for a Just Recovery: The Jesuit Social Services Federal Election Platform, the Jesuit Social Services says:

“People seeking asylum and refugees living in the community also face major challenges, often living below the poverty line, without access to government support, away from loved ones, and with the uncertainty of three-year and five-year Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs). Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEVs)…. the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified these challenges.

“As well as showing fundamental respect for human dignity, health, and well-being, research has shown that providing permanence to refugees on TPVs and SHEVs is likely to generate approximately $6.75 billion for the Australian economy over five years. We call on the government to abolish TPVs and SHEVs and allow people seeking asylum and refugees access to permanent resettlement in the community.”

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