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Monitoring Asylum in Australia

Monitoring Asylum in Australia

Australia has a national asylum system in place to determine whether people claiming asylum are refugees.

UNHCR closely monitors the situation in Australia and works to promote respect for the international human rights of asylum-seekers.
UNHCR staff meet with members of the communities at The Neal Family Community Cente is located in the area of Asentamientos Humanos (Human Settlements) in San Pedro Sula.

Asylum-seekers who arrive in Australia without a visa are subjected to a number of punitive measures that can significantly impair their mental health and general well-being. These measures have also greatly impacted their ability to meaningfully engage in the refugee status determination process. They include:

  • Waiting up to four years to be granted permission by the Government to apply for protection
  • The inability to apply for permanent residency
  • The removal of free legal assistance (with only limited exceptions)
  • The imposition of an accelerated (fast track) determination process without adequate procedural safeguards
  • The indefinite inability to reunite with immediate family members.

There are approximately 30,000 asylum-seekers affected by these measures, labelled by the Australian Government as the so-called ‘legacy caseload’. Negative political rhetoric and the resulting community stigmatisation of this group of asylum-seekers has also had a harmful impact on them.

People who seek international protection have endured traumatic experiences before arriving in Australia and their resilience is eroded by punitive measures they experience in Australia. Many asylum-seekers suffer from clinically diagnosable mental disorders including anxiety, depressive disorders and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Legal Representation

Mental Health and Legal Representation for Asylum-Seekers in the "Legacy Caseload"    Mary Anne Kenny, Nicholas Procter, Carol Grech (2016)

Legal Assistance for Asylum-Seekers                Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law (2015)

'Fast Track' Process

'Fast tracking' refugee status determination    Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law (2015)

'Fast tracking' statistics                                Refugee Council of Australia (2017)

Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Act 2014: What it means for Asylum-Seekers Refugee Council of Australia (2015)

The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 Submission                 Refugee Advice and Casework Service (2014)