INTRODUCTION – Extract
Every person deserves, by virtue of their inherent dignity, the recognition of basic rights allowing them to live in safety and security. This is what people who come to Australia seeking asylum, or as refugees, are trying to obtain. Yet Australia’s current approach to such people frequently imposes uncertainty and even destitution on this already vulnerable section of our community.
At many points in our history Australia has provided pathways for people seeking asylum to build safe and secure lives in our communities. However, for the last two decades the legal frameworks and processes through which people seek asylum in Australia have been wound back to the point where they are as difficult to navigate as they are unfair. Basic mechanisms of support essential to making an effective protection claim, and to basic subsistence, have increasingly been constrained. Bipartisan punitive attitudes towards asylum seekers at the Commonwealth level of government can give anyone hoping to see changes for the better a sense of hopelessness.
The aim of this report is to cut through that seeming impasse at the federal level by showing the ways in which state and territory governments might safeguard some of the rights of people seeking asylum and refugees. Over what has been nearly a year’s worth of research, we have found that states and territories can have significant impact in certain key areas affecting people seeking asylum. Every state and territory possesses the power to legislate with regard to matters including housing, health and education – the areas focused on in this report. In the face of a Commonwealth government apparently intending to deny any level of dignity to a profoundly vulnerable community, states and territories are empowered to intervene to ensure at least basic needs are being met.
SOURCE: Blythe, Renata; Clarke, James; Connell, Tyrone et al. “States of Refuge: Access to health, housing and education for people seeking asylum and refugees in Australia.” Liberty Victoria, 2 July 2018.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia