Monitoring Asylum in Australia
UNHCR closely monitors the situation in Australia and works to promote respect for the international human rights of asylum-seekers.
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).
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)
Development and validation of a mental health screening tool for asylum-seekers and refugees: the STAR-MH Debbie C. Hocking, Serafino G. Mancuso, Suresh Sundram (2018)
Position Statement 46: The provision of mental health services for asylum seekers and refugees The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (2017)
Managing and Understanding Psychological Issues Among Refugee Applicants: Guidelines for Best Practice University of New South Wales (2013)
The Impact of Detention on the Health of Asylum Seekers: A Systematic Review Trine Filges, Edith Montgomery, Marianne Kastrup, Anne-Marie Klint Jørgensen (2015)
Guidelines on the Judicial Approach to Expert Medical Evidence International Association of Refugee Law Judges (1997)
Towards the Restoration of Individualized Assessment of Mental Health in Refugee Law Cecilia Bailliet (2009)
Part I—The mental health impacts of migration: the law and its effects Failing to understand: refugee determination and the traumatized applicant Zachary Steela, Naomi Frommerb and Derrick Silovec (2004)