The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is the national umbrella body for refugees and the organisations and individuals who support them. It has more than 200 organisational and over 900 individual members.
Over the past 25 years, people have been supported while seeking asylum through a basic living allowance and limited casework. These support programs were designed so that people can more effectively resolve their claims for protection. In the past few years, and especially since August 2017, the Australian Government has been making it harder for people to access these support programs.
For years, Australia has been punishing people who need our protection. We have been turning back the boats which were carrying them to safety, and shipping and warehousing them in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. If they make it to mainland Australia, we have been detaining them indefinitely and, once they are released, leaving them to struggle in the community without support.
In the next few months of 2018, the Australian Department of Home Affairs plans to drastically cut support to people seeking asylum. This is likely to leave more than 7,500 people hungry and homeless, most of them living in the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.
In 2017, a wide range of actors from across the Australian refugee sector and movement worked together to articulate a platform for reform of Australian refugee policy in 2018 and beyond. The contributors included: people from refugee backgrounds, NGOs, community groups, academics and grassroots organisations. As such, the views expressed here are informed by a broad cross section of expertise from across Australia. A list of associated organisations and groups is listed below.
The 2018-19 Federal Budget continues the Australian Government’s focus on border control at the expense of those seeking protection, with the only significant new measure affecting refugees being another $62 million for Operation Sovereign Borders.
“At a time of urgent need for refugees here and overseas, this Budget does nothing to address their needs and keeps spending instead on punishing them for needing our protection,” Refugee Council of Australia CEO Paul Power said.