A warm welcome is no great act of charity, it’s just a part of being a good neighbour, something we would hope for if we were ever in the same situation. Currently in Australia this is no longer the case; on 21st May the Federal Government announced that thousands of asylum seekers would have to apply for Temporary Protection or Safe Haven Enterprise Visas before October 1st or risk losing their income support, Medicare, right to work or even right to be here.
The complex application form is forty-one pages long and is only printed in English but here’s the real rub; the Government cut interpreter and legal support services by 85% in 2014, so if English isn’t your first language, you’re unfamiliar with Australian law and you can’t afford an immigration lawyer – you are in big trouble.
Our friends at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre have over 1,000 people on their legal aid waiting-list whose applications need completing by October 1. It’s a race with brutal consequences for the losers. On June 20th World Refugee Day the ASRC is holding a Telethon to raise $100,000 to pay for over 3,000 hours of legal assistance to help 1000 asylum seekers stay safe in Australia.
Time to get neighbourly….