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A last resort? - Summary Guide: Temporary Protection Visas

A Last Resort? - SUMMARY GUIDE. A Summary of the important issues, findings and recommendations of the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

A last resort?

National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

Temporary Protection Visas

Following a successful application for asylum, children

- either individually or as part of their family group - are generally

released from detention into the community on a three-year temporary protection

visa (TPV).

Since 2001, the conditions attached to the TPV mean that

children and their families:

  • are not eligible for permanent residence in Australia, unless

    the Minister decides otherwise

  • are unable to bring any family to join them in Australia

    for the period of their TPV, unless the Minister decides otherwise

  • lose their visa if they travel outside Australia, as TPVs

    are single-entry visas.

After three years the TPV expires. At this time the child

is required to apply again to stay in Australia on the basis that they

are still a refugee and that it would not be safe for them to return to

their country of origin.

Evidence presented to the Inquiry highlighted two very significant

barriers that children released from detention on TPVs face as they try

to integrate into the Australian community.

The first is that the temporary status of their residence

creates a deep uncertainty and anxiety about their future. 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.

It is like a cancer. It is like

a brain tumour or something – you know that you are going

to die after three years. Even if you have a brain tumour, you know

that you are going to die in that certain time … so you live

happily. With this, you just die every day. You don’t know

what’s going to happen.

Teenage boy, Perth focus group


Image: Drawing by a child detainee in Port Hedland

Drawing by a child detainee in Port Hedland

The second concern is that 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,

especially for unaccompanied children who may want to try to see their


Evidence to the Inquiry showed that unaccompanied refugee

children released from detention were generally well-cared for by State

agencies and that health, education and social services attached to temporary

visas satisfied the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of

the Child.

However, limited settlement services, including initial

housing assistance; stringent reporting requirements in order to receive

the Special Benefit; limited employment assistance programs; and limited

English language tuition for adults all placed significant strain on children

and families trying to integrate into the Australian community.

Inquiry finding

Australia’s laws breach

the Convention on the Rights of the Child by failing to ensure that

children released from immigration detention on TPVs can enjoy their

right to mental health, development, recovery from past trauma and

family unity.