Calls for the streamlining of Australia’s refugee determination process have intensified following a week of intense scrutiny for the Government’s controversial off-shore detention centres.
Refugee advocates in Australia say lengthy delays in the processing of arrivals leave hundreds of refugees trapped in detention or on short-term visas with no prospect of long-term stability or protection.
CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia, Paul Power said despite media focus on conditions of detention, the main area of concern is the lengthy and messy status determination process.
“A more prompt and fairer refugee determination status is critical,” Mr Power said.
“People who believe that they genuinely have a well-founded fear of persecution should they return home, should actually feel confident that their concerns are going to be seriously taken into consideration, and that the government haven’t loaded the dice against them.
“So many people have been waiting for years for the determination of their refugee status.”
The comments come following another week of criticism for Australia’s border policies, which included the death of an Afghan refugee who feared deportation, as well as extensive media coverage of a sexual assault on the government’s Nauru off-shore processing facility.
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton told reporters at a press conference on Friday that the Government was committed to it’s current policy of off-shore detention and refugee processing.
“Obviously the Government’s message remains very clear, that is that we are not going to settle people who seek to come to our country by boat,” Mr Dutton said.
“If they’re in Regional Processing Centres on Nauru or Manus they will not settle in Australia.”
Mr Power says this leaves even those who are granted refugee status with significant obstacles in the way of a normal life.
“There is a lot of fear in relation to cancellation of visas and re-detention,” Mr Power said.
“In quite a number of asylum seeker and refugee communities, there are people who have been re-detained, and in larger numbers since legislation was changed in relation to the cancellation of visas.”