Illegal Mirgration

Each year several thousand people already in Australia apply for a Protection Visa. These include people who have arrived lawfully and unlawfully and have been living in the Australian community. If found to need protection, these people will be granted a permanent Protection Visa, as long as they meet all the health and character requirements.

Asylum Seekers

Definition :
'An asylum seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.'
(United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Master Glossary of Terms, June 2006)
Australia then defines an asylum seeker as anyone who is here on a Protection Visa (PV) and is awaiting the Department of Immigration or the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) to fully determine their application.
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Until mid 1989, there were fewer than 500 refugee applications a year from people in Australia. Over the following two years there was an increase in people claiming refugee status due primarily to the Tiananmen Square incident in the People's Republic of China (PRC) in June 1989. Refugee status (PV) applications peaked at 16,248 during 1990-91, with about 77 per cent coming from PRC nationals.
At that time, and until 1995, each PV application was counted as a single case and did not take account of the number of people included in the application. This meant a single application could include several members of a family or just one individual. Since 1995, each person included in an application has been counted as making an individual application. This followed changes to migration law in 1994.The present system for processing protection visa applications in Australia was developed during the 1980s and 1990s in response to the increased number of asylum seekers.

The Refugee’s convention:
Australia is one of 146 signatory countries to the UN’s 1951 Convention/1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees
Convention defines refugees as people who:

· Are outside their country of nationality or usual place of residence
· Are unable or unwilling to return or seek protection from that country due to a well founded fear of being prosecuted due to reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinions
· Are not war criminals or people who have committed non-political crimes.
The convention does not comply signatory countries to provide protection to people who do not fear persecution or have left their country due to war, famine, environmental collapse of in order to seek a better life.
Protection obligations may also not be owed to persons who have effective protection in another country, through citizenship or other means to enter and remain safe in that country.
International Law recognises the right for a person to flee their country if facing persecution and seek refugee elsewhere, but does not give them the right to enter a country which they are not a national. Nor do they the right to choose country of protection.
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Abolition of Temporary Protection Visas (TPV) and Temporary Humanity Visas (THV):
9th of August 2008 TPV’s were abolished. This means all initial applicants for a Protection Visa that were seen to engage Australia’s protection obligations now receive a permanent Protection Visa.
Certain temporary Humanitarian visas (THVs) granted to people outside Australia were also abolished on that date. These visas were Subclass 451 – Secondary Movement Relocation (Temporary) and Subclass 447 – Secondary Movement Offshore Entry (Temporary) visas.
Current and former TPV and THV holders still in Australia on 9 August 2008 now have access to a permanent visa with the same benefits and entitlements of the permanent Protection visa. This visa is called the Resolution of Status (RoS) (subclass 851) visa. Only health, character and security requirements need to be met for this visa, and there is no reassessment of protection claims required.
All applicants for a Permanent Visa are now eligible for the grant of a Permanent Protection Visa, providing all relevant criteria is met. Current and former holders of a TPV/THV will have their status resolved permanently through the grant of a Resolution of Status (RoS) subclass 851 visa, provided health, character and security requirements are met.
The changes were made because the government is committed to providing fair and certain outcomes for Refugees and abolishing the TPV’s is consistent with the Government’s commitment to treating asylum seekers fairly and with dignity. TPV’s and THV’s were introduced by the previous Government to try and discourage people smuggling resulting in unauthorised boat arrivals and to discourage refugees of leaving their first country of asylum.
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Applications for a PV are assessed by the Department of Immigration and citizenship who acts on behalf of the Minister, decides if the applicant meets the obligations under the UN Convention. This is done by assessing the claims set out against a refugee in the Convention. All applications are assessed on an individual basis.
All decisions must be made within the time period of 3 months. If this time period is not met then they are subject to periodic reports to Parliament.

The 90 Day Time Period:

Each applicant uppon arrival in Australia have a 90 day time period. All applications are supposed to be reviewed and a decision made on the imigration of the applicant within this time period. This time period was bought in to try and reduce the amount of time Asylum seekers spent in detention centres. Although there has been a repiud improvement since the introduction of this policy, there still are some asylum seekers that spend years in the harsh conditions of detention centres.

"While no asylum seeker should wait years to receive a decision, the 90-day limit imposes unnecessary pressures on decision-makers and advocates alike. Efficiency is only secondary to adequately preparing and presenting an asylum seeker’s case. This often requires:
  • Obtaining an asylum seeker’s immigration file through the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) including from an overseas post. Th ese fi les are rarely provided before the 90-day time limit has expired;
  • Expert evidence such as medical reports to corroborate claims of torture and trauma. Most skilled clinicians will be able to establish a therapeutic relationship and treatment within a short amount of time, however preparing a report often takes weeks and months;
  • Expert evidence concerning specific country information which may require weeks to research and complete;
  • Research and written legal submissions setting out an asylum seeker’s claims and why they fall within the Refugee Convention;
  • Health, security and overseas police clearances, the latter of which may not be possible to obtain.
The above often proves the 90-day time limit is unrealistic and unworkable. This is particularly the case when working with interpreters and seeking to ensure an asylum seeker is well supported and kept fully advised throughout the process.
In most cases, advocates have sought and DIAC has granted extensions of time to prepare cases, provide further documents or to attend an interview. Recent experience has shown that any increase in volume of applications renders the 90-day time limit unrealistic, particularly if there is no corresponding increase in DIAC resources. This is despite cases being relatively straightforward given the country of origin and the claims made against refugee criteria." section 2.2

Detention Centres:

In the pre-election environment of 2001, the Australian Government introduced legislative changes allowing some of Australia's territory to be excised from the migration zone in order to discourage non-citizens from arriving unlawfully in Australia by boat. People attempting to do so since then have been intercepted at sea, where possible, and either returned to Indonesia or removed to third countries in the Pacific. Any claims made by those people for refugee status could then be processed by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) outside the jurisdiction of Australian courts, with no guarantee of a resettlement place in Australia.
These border protection measures have become known as the 'Pacific Solution'. They represent a change in the way that Australia is prepared to meet its obligations under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951. This Research Note provides an overview of these measures and recent developments.

In September 2001 the Migration Amendment (Excision from Migration Zone) Bill 2001 amended the Migration Act 1958 to excise Christmas, Ashmore, Cartier and Cocos (Keeling) Islands from the migration zone.(1) As a result, any unlawful non-citizen attempting to enter Australia via one of these islands is now prevented from making an application for a protection visai.e. refugee statusunless the Minister for Immigration determines that it is in the public interest for such a person to do so.(2)These measures arose as a response to the controversial Tampa incident in August 2001 when 433 asylum seekers on route to Australia were rescued by a Norwegian freighter, the Tampa. These asylum seekers were refused entry to Australia, transferred to HMAS Manoora and (along with later arrivals) sent to the Pacific island of Nauru.On 19 September 2001 Australia signed an Administrative Agreement with Nauru to accommodate asylum seekers for the duration of the processing of their applications. This was replaced by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on 11 December 2001. Australia also signed an MOU with Papua New Guinea on 11 October 2001, allowing the construction of a processing centre to accommodate and assess the claims of asylum seekers on Manus Island. The centres have been managed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
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Before 1992 people were held discreatly in detention centres according to the Migration Act 1958. When the ammendment in 1992 occured, there was mandatory detntion for all people who arrived illegally. Ammendments introduced since 2000 have expanded powers given to detention centres and prevented court orders for realise. Some "softenoing was introduced in 2001 with the residental housing project for women and children and community detention arrangements.

UNCHR statistics show that Australia has experienced fewer asylum claims than other industrialised countries.

Children in Dentention Centres:

One of the biggest problems the Australian population has with Dentention centres is keeping children in them. Chilout is a group formed by parents and citizens in 2001 to oppose the madatory detention of children. Between 1992-2005 thousands of children where placed in detention centres with their parents. Most of these people had arrived from Afghanastain, Iraq and Iran and nearly all were found to be refugees.


In July 2008 the government decided to take a new approach to the treatment of illegal immigrants. They changed the policy of mandatory dentention to people who pose a threat to Australians and those who have over stayed their visas.Immigration misiter Chris Evans claimed that detention centres would only be used as a last resort and children where therefor band. "The Howard Government's punitive policies did much damage to those individuals detained and brought a great shame on Australia," Mr Evans said. "Enormous damage has been done to our international reputation." The changes in policy mean that a person should be proved they need to be detained raqther than they should. This changes the onus of proof, according to Evans. That annoucement signaled the release of 100's who's applications are being processed.


Article on Detention Centres
This article was great i found as it looked into a bit more about the dificulties facing a refugee in dentention centres.

Although i recognise the reson for having detention centres in Austrlia, they still in many ways dehumanise people and create a worse situation for people who have already been through more than any one of us could possibly imagine. Even with the improvements they have made they have moved many of the detention centres off mainland Australia and onto islands that aren't technically Australian. As a result of this the asylum seekers are denyed access to things like legal aid. Although there is starting to be an improvement within the system and with detention centres and the treatement of people in camps i think a lot more of it is becoming private and secrative. The fact that the camps are now mainly offshore where there is very little public and media access seems that the Government are trying to bring this problem out of the public eye and in a way "push it under the carpet". Although there definitly is a need to protect Australia and Australians from threats and health issues, is that an excuse to defy some of the human right treaties set out by the UN?