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Human Rights Commission urges Immigration Department to Fastrack Processing of TPV holders in assessing eligibility for mainstream migration visas

Commission Commission – General

Wednesday 14th July
2004

Human Rights
Commission urges Immigration Department to Fastrack Processing of TPV
holders in assessing eligibility for mainstream migration visas

The Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission has welcomed the announcement by Immigration
Minister Amanda Vanstone that the Government will allow 9,500 temporary
protection visa holders (TPVs) the opportunity to apply for mainstream
migration visas. This will enable them to apply to remain permanently
in Australia, without needing to leave the country to lodge their applications.

However this announcement
does nothing to remedy the deficiencies in the TPV system for these people
who have already been found to be genuine refugees. The Commission is
concerned that in practice very few people will qualify for the migration
visas.

Human Rights Commissioner
Dr Sev Ozdowski said that A last resort?, the report of HREOC into children
in immigration detention, identified two key problems with the TPV regime.

“The first
is that the temporary status of their residence creates a deep uncertainty
and anxiety about their future,” he said. “This can exacerbate
existing mental health problems from their time in detention and their
past history of persecution. It also affects their capacity to fully participate
in the educational opportunities offered in Australia”.

“Secondly the
absence of the right to family reunion for the duration of the visa, combined
with the effective ban on overseas travel, means that some children may
be separated from their parents or family for a long, potentially indefinite,
period of time. Again this can undermine a child's mental health and well
being”.

“It is imperative
that the Immigration Department move swiftly to amend the Regulations
to effect this policy shift, advise TPV holders of their right to apply
for a mainstream migration visa and most importantly fast track the approval
process.

"Given that
the Department has already found these people to be genuine refugees and
assessed their identity, health and security status in granting them TPVs,
the further assessments required to see if they meet the migration visa
criteria should be streamlined. I will be closely monitoring the Department's
performance in this regard to see how quickly they respond to the Government's
policy shift".

Media enquiries:
Janine MacDonald (02) 9284 9880 or 0407 660 235

Last
updated: 16 July 2004.