We must let refugees stay and rebuild their lives - Speech, House of Representatives


Yesterday, I went for an early-morning run with Lachlan Arthur and Cassie Cohen from the Canberra Refugee Marathon Project, and Zaki Haidari, a refugee on a temporary visa. A member of the Hazara ethnic group, Zaki's father was taken away one night by the Taliban. That was 10 years ago and he's never seen him again. Zaki's brother was beheaded when the Taliban stopped him and found out that he was a university student.

Zaki fled to Australia in fear of his life.

Zaki is one of nearly 18,000 people who are on Temporary Protection Visas and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas. Another 10,000 are in the process of renewing one of those visas. They work in the community. Zaki's SHEV lets him work at the Australian National University. But they live their lives in limbo, having to renew their visas every two to five years. Including other irregular maritime arrivals, the so-called 'legacy caseload' numbers more than 30,000. As the Refugee Advice & Casework Service points out, TPV and SHEV holders are excluded from the National Disability Insurance Scheme, HECS-HELP loans, and Commonwealth supported places at tertiary education institutions. They do not have the right to sponsor family members to live with them in Australia and their ability to travel overseas to see their family is heavily restricted.

Mohammed Hussein Jafari from Franklin has been in Australia since 2012 and is currently on a TPV. It's been two years since Mohammed saw his children, nine-year-old Haneh and four-year-old Amir, who live in Iran. Mohammed runs the barbershop next to the light rail in Gungahlin, and I'm just one of his many customers.

All of those on TPVs and SHEVs should be given permanent status immediately. Keeping them on permanent temporary status prevents them from rebuilding their lives. It endangers their mental health. Because they've been admitted into Australia, the government's clearly decided they pose no risk to national security. They have no home to return to. We should make them permanent.


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.