Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced earlier this week that asylum seekers whose claims are processed onshore can be denied permanent protection visas for as long as five years even if they are found to be genuine refugees and regardless of whether their claims are processed in Australia, Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. For asylum seekers allowed into the community on bridging visas, they will have no work rights and can rely only on limited accommodation and financial support.
‘Our experiences as Josephites over the past few months with asylum seekers who are already in the community, have demonstrated clearly how very difficult life is for them,’ said Sr Anne Derwin, congregational leader of the Josephites.
‘No work rights, extremely limited available housing, language and cultural difficulties and an allowance of $219.20 a week without any concessions, means that quality of life is almost impossible without generous community support. Now the bridging visas with the constant threat of offshore transfer will exacerbate the distress already being felt by these most vulnerable people who seek only safety and a fair go.’
‘When will the women and men of compassion and reason in our political parties be heard so that Australia's response to those seeking asylum will at last be humane?’ she asked.