A faster and fairer onshore refugee assessment process is the aim of the Federal Government’s announcement of an extra $160 million for the assessment process for protection claims by people seeking asylum onshore in Australia.
For years, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) and others have complained about long delays in processing onshore protection claims. On average, a decision by the Home Affairs Department takes over 2 years, a decision from the Administrative Appeals tribunal more than 3 years, and decisions on court appeals over 5 years. Refugees can be waiting for over a decade if they pursue all the avenues available to them under Australian law.
The extra money will be spent on employing more Home Affairs staff to process applications, increasing staffing in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the courts, and the restoration of legal assistance.
Serious concerns still exist for the number of people seeking asylum who face destitution and homelessness as a result of cuts to income and accommodation support offered to people seeking asylum. Church and community organisations working with people seeking asylum around the country report that they are struggling to meet the needs of people who live in deep poverty because of harsh policies which have cut support over the last 6 years.
The extra funds will help to ease these problems because faster and more efficient processing will reduce the time spent waiting for a protection decision, but urgent consideration must be given to easing the suffering of tens of thousands of people seeking asylum through more generous income and accommodation support.
For further information from the RCOA about this announcement, see: