Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced that refugees within Australian custody may now request either a three-year temporary protection visa or a five-year safe haven enterprise visa.
The deal made between the Coalition and Clive Palmer’s United Party could see some see relief to approximately 30,000 asylum seekers.
Under the safe haven enterprise visa, refugees would be confined to areas experiencing a labour shortage, aren’t entitled welfare benefits but are able to apply for an onshore visa.
Refugees opting to seek the temporary protection visa may live and work wherever they like however, after three years their visas would expire and their protection would be up for evaluation.
Human rights lawyer and refugee advocate David Manne said the Federal Government’s reinstatement of temporary protection visas will “re-traumatise” refugees.
“In relation to temporary protection visas what we are looking at here is a proposal that would return us to a fundamentally failed policy,” Mr Manne told the ABC.
Brisbane based artist Sha Sarwari who came to Australia in 1999 before becoming a citizen in 2007 said temporary protection visas provide no certainty.
“Temporary protection visas put people in limbo and that’s how I felt when I was on a temporary protection visa,” he said.
“What I was feeling at the time I was not sure if I was going to be sent back once my visa is expired…it’s better than being in a detention centre but again out in the community you feel lost [and] you don’t know what to do.”
In an effort to support those on temporary protection visas, Brisbane’s multicultural development association’s Nikki Wynne said she works locally with asylum seekers to help provide a sense of belonging.
“MDA provides a multifaceted approach to supporting people who are seeking asylum and that is case management support,” she said.
“There is also quite a lot of social inclusion and education work so when people arrive they will [and] understand the laws and culture of Australia and generally help them connect to the community.”
The government is yet to announce whether or not they will introduce a cap regarding the number of five-year visas available to those seeking asylum.