New Hope for Refugees on Temp Protection Visas

13 July 2004

The Australian Government has finally demonstrated some compassion and common decency to the thousands of Temporary Protection Visa holders who having been living with uncertain futures.

Uniting Church National President, Rev. Dr Dean Drayton, said the decision to allow 9,500 TPV holders to make permanent residency applications from within Australia was a first step in re-creating public confidence in Australia's immigration system.

"We congratulate the Minister on today's decision – it shows the Government has acknowledged the need for compassion and decency when it comes to people who have been granted protection in Australia as refugees.

"The Uniting Church has always been concerned about the effects of temporary protection on refugees. It's not right to provide a safe haven for people and then, after they have established a life and a sense of belonging in Australia, insist they go home.

"We are pleased that refugees will now be given the chance to apply onshore for permanent residency. This decision gives them the opportunity to build their lives with a sense of security and with hope for the future," Rev. Drayton said.

UnitingJustice, National Director, Rev. Elenie Poulos, said that the Church is also relieved by the announcement of the return pending visa.

"It is a matter of dignity that people who are being forced to leave Australia have the time to make proper arrangements for themselves and their families."

Rev. Poulos said that although there was good news in today's announcement, the Church is concerned that some people will be left behind. "It seems that the Government's focus is on those refugees who have been able to get work and build community networks. Our concern is for those refugees who are struggling to overcome the effects of terrible trauma and so have been unable to work or participate because of significant health issues. We hope the Government's recovered sense of compassion extends to those most in need of our help," said Rev. Poulos.