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Refugee Council of Australia: Our impact in 2019-2020

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100s of meetings with key decision makers

Throughout 2019-20, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) engaged in hundreds of direct lobbying meetings with key decision-makers – federal and state MPs and senators, key government advisors and senior officials of the Department of Home Affairs – to promote more humane refugee policies. During this period, we organised four delegations – consisting of member organisations and refugees speaking from lived experience – to meet with a diverse array of politicians and bureaucrats, including meetings with senior advisers to the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have communicated on multiple occasions with Australia’s 227 federal and 611 state and territory parliamentarians and met with key ministers.
We have repeatedly drawn attention to the human and public health impacts of failing to address the risks associated with overcrowding in immigration detention and the destitution of temporary visa holders left with no financial safety net. Over 100 MPs have responded directly to our correspondence and we continue to lobby for policy change on this issue.

Working for a fairer asylum process in Australia

This year, we regularly convened the Fair Process Working Group to further develop our strategic plan to achieve a range of important changes for people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary protection visas. The group is led by RCOA and is made up of more than 40 refugee support organisations from across the sector.
Together, we are working towards three priority issues for the next 1-3 years:

  • Establishing a pathway to permanency for temporary protection visa holders.

  • Achieving access to family reunion for temporary protection visa holders.

  • Ensuring baseline support for people seeking asylum on bridging visas – access to Medicare, work rights and a valid bridging visa.

We organised two delegations to Canberra – comprising of people on SHEV visas and member organisations – to meet with parliamentarians, senior parliamentary advisors and senior officials of the Department of Home Affairs to discuss these concerns and advocate for change. This work paved the way for the Nobody Left Behind campaign,
RCOA’s biggest and most ambitious to date.