eX-detainees’ Statement 11/05/2021 : eX-detainees condemn the Australian Government’s recent move of “fast-tracking”  the asylum status assessment process of more than 1000 asylum seekers in Australia by the end of June 2021.

The Coalition Government is targeting refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boats during the period between 2012 and 2013 and putting them at an intentional disadvantage to access refugee status. This policy does not afford desperate people the bare minimum of due process in what could be a legal process that decides the difference between their life and death.

“Fast-tracking” refugee status and asylum claims is targeted and systemic discrimination against our community members who have arrived by boats. Vulnerable people who need a safe harbour are being set up to fail.

The “fast track” process offers no protection, only guaranteed injustice. The Australian government has already cut the funding of legal services assisting refugees, guaranteeing minimal legal support for asylum seekers who have only two weeks to prepare a case for refugee status with a vastly under-resourced legal sector representing them. “Fast-tracking” will devastate asylum seekers and their families, and these are people who are already severely traumatised.

Our lives are treated as disposable in this country.

Now the government wants to target the backlog of unprocessed refugees because our communities are one of the most unprotected and maligned communities in Australia. eX-detainees and detainees should be given protection visas with full rights, compensation and support services based within the community while their claims are processed according to the rules of procedural fairness. Stop punishing us for how we arrive in this country and for seeking asylum. It is not a crime to seek asylum. 

We demand:

  • Stop “fast-tracking” asylum claims and afford basic due process to detainees, refugees and eX-detainees, including access to legal representation and timelines that allow for proper submissions;
  • Give all onshore and offshore refugees, detainees and eX-detainees (in camps, hotels and in the community) permanent protection visas with full rights, support, services;
  • Compensate those harmed by the mandatory detention system for the psychological and physical damage of being indefinitely detained for nearly a decade;
  • Allow all detainees and eX-detainees must be able to immediately apply for family reunification on humanitarian grounds.

The systemic abuse against refugees arriving by boats to seek asylum has been going on for over 30 years through successive partisan Australian government policies that target asylum seekers arriving by boats. Never forget, it was a Labor party refugee policy that stranded nearly 30000 eX-detainees and detainees in onshore and offshore indefinite detention, many of whom continue to live in limbo with no guarantee of remaining in Australia. Indefinite and mandatory detention is a human rights violation and is deemed to be a form of torture under international law.

Labor then implemented a policy to stop processing the claims of asylum seekers who had arrived by boats.  Labor then re-invented the mandatory indefinite detention for the asylum seekers who arrived by boats, namely the current no advantage policy. We should not forget that the Labor party were the architects of the offshore indefinite detention policy with the help of a three-members “expert panel” including the CEO of Foundation House Mr Paris Aristotle. Labor laid the foundations for the Coalitions current policy of “fast tracking” current applications for asylum and refugee status. 

Many asylum seekers who arrived in Australia on boats under the no advantage policy are struggling with no access to Centrelink, other government welfare support such as housing and no access to the immigration department’s SRSS scheme. This policy guarantees the extermination of many lives in the eX-detainee community by coercing us to self deport to danger. RISE have been speaking against the white supremacist refugee  “fast -track” process since its inception about five years or so. 

It is disingenuous for refugee lawyers to act as though this is “news” or something that is “unpredictable”.  Our advocacy crew at RISE have been warning our members to be prepared and to organise their cases well before what we considered to be the inevitable, occurs.

It took nearly a decade for the current government to process asylum claims- this is not really about “fast tracking” anything- rather it is a tokenistic and discriminative process that will forcibly deport more refugees to their country of origin and potentially torture and deaths. This process is about sending as many people who need asylum back to their country of origin as possible. This is why it is expedited. 

Our lives are treated as disposable in this country. The Australian government has not provided proper legal or community support for refugees who have arrived in Australia during 2012. We demand justice. We demand the same legal rights as the rest of the Australian community.

Australia, you have blood on your hands.

eX-detainee Team