12 June 2022

After a pause during the election campaign, we emerge on the other side with many barriers for refugees and asylum seekers still in place from the previous government’s practices. This week’s letter is addressed to the new minister for Home Affairs: Clare.ONeil.MP@aph.gov.au

You could also send it to the Prime Minister via his contact form here:https://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm ; and the Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles here:https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Contact_Senator_or_Member?MPID=243609

Dear Ms O’Neill

I am friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. I live in the electorate of ***. We have been writing a letter to the federal government every week for more than 4 years, seeking humane treatment for refugees and asylum seekers on-shore and off-shore. We are copying this letter to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

We were overjoyed to witness the return of the Muruguppan family to Biloela this week, and we commend you for your prompt action on this matter. We urge you to bring and end to their nightmare by granting a permanent visa to them. 

In his article in today’s Saturday paper, Mehdi Ali, still concerned for the plight of his friends in Australia, PNG and Nauru, writes from the USA:

All those of us who spent our childhoods and adolescence alone in the far islands and in the horrific environments of those areas, without trial and without sentencing, were also hopeful that at least one of parties would see us as the oppressed and finally offer to us some peace. We hoped that they would offer permanent residence to those of us in the community, held in limbo with no crime to answer. Perhaps, after all these years and all the hardship we have endured, they would give those of us here some clemency. Beyond that, possibly they would start to talk about compensation for how we were treated. For someone like me, who spent my childhood in detention, maybe there would be some acknowledgement of everything I have lost and will never get back, of all the cruelty and suffering.

Minister, these people have suffered enough. The Australian people have given you the chance to lead this debate towards compassion, and offer these people some peace. We await your answers to the following questions:

1. Will you reintroduce the 90 day rule, which requires that refugee status determinations are concluded within 90 days from the time of application?

2. You have indicated that you will continue the current policy of boat turnbacks, and offshore processing. Will you place a limit on how long people can be detained offshore? If so, how long will that period be, and how will such a policy be carried out and enforced?

3. Will you reintroduce a policy which gives final say to doctors, not bureaucrats, on when detainees need to be transferred from off-shore detention to Australia to obtain medical care?

4. Will you expedite permanent resettlement options for all those who remain on Nauru and in PNG, rather than letting them languish for years more? 

5. Will you draw a line under the torture of those refugees recently released from on-shore detention, by providing appropriate support – including Centrelink entitlements – to them in the community, and allowing them to settle permanently in Australia?

6. Will you grant permanent visas to all current holders of TPVs and SHEVs?

Yours sincerely

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