A Just Australia reports that "this weekend the Australian Labor Party held their National Policy Conference. Along with other organisations, A Just Australia lobbied hard on ending Temporary Protection Visas and granting work rights to asylum seekers on Bridging Visas. The change to Bridging Visas was something AJA and National Council of Churches worked particularly hard on together - working with Labor for Refugees, traveling to Canberra to lobby key MPs as well as negotiating implementation models directly with the Shadow Minister for Immigration.
We are pleased to tell you that this work paid off, with both amendments being accepted by vote at the conference. See the ALP website for more details, although as of Monday 30th it will be a few days before the new platform is uploaded.
The changes in summary are:
Asylum seekers who are independently determined to be refugees under the Migration Act 1958 will be given permanent protection.
Labor recognises that the arbitrary 45 day rule results in legitimate asylum seekers on Bridging Visas being unnecessarily denied the right to work while their claim is being processed. It also prevents immigration officers from denying work rights to frivolous claims within the 45-day period. Labor will work to develop guidelines based on merit so that frivolous or vexatious applications will be denied those rights, instead of applying an arbitrary 45 day time limit.
AJA is seeking more support to address the ongoing concern of Afghan asylum seekers trapped on Lombok in Indonesia. The AJA again:
"...the bad news, and this is why we urgently need you help again, is that the 21 Afghan asylum seekers who are left on Lombok do not have protection status and are now illegal immigrants. The three families (eight children ages ranging from three to 19) and seven single people, are being coerced by IOM and Indonesian officials to return to Afghanistan which is becoming a war zone.
The people are at risk of being arrested by the Indonesian police and are being threatened with quarantine. People who have been in quarantine report a tiny cell with the bare floor to sleep on, starvation rations and an indefinite time, depending on how much money you have to bribe the guards.
Attached is a form letter addressed to Kevin Andrews, the minister for immigration. You are welcome to put your name, date and signature and post it off, or write your own letter. Also, it would be good to write to the federal representative for your electorate and any one you feel may be able to take notice for whatever reason."
Click here to access a form letter to Minister Andrews. As AJA asserts, every letter does count. Please send letters urgently.