Starting today, Monday 28 August the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will issue dozens of refugees and people seeking asylum who were transferred to Australia from offshore detention for medical reasons with a ‘final departure Bridging E Visa’.
The visa will give them three weeks to find their own accommodation while at the same time cutting their entire financial support and directing them to make arrangements to leave Australia.
Overall, there are around 400 men, women and children in Australia from Nauru and Manus who will be impacted by this new policy. The first people impacted are single men and women, including women transferred to Australia for medical treatment as they were sexually assaulted and raped on Nauru.
The first people were issued with this visa on Monday, 28 August and Minister Dutton has effectively confirmed that this will now extend to families, including children.
Natasha Blucher, Detention Advocacy Manager, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said:
“We’re talking about women who were sexually assaulted on Nauru. Men who were violently attacked on Manus. Children who were so traumatised by offshore detention that they needed urgent psychiatric care in Australia. They have already endured unimaginable suffering but were finally starting to rebuild their lives in freedom and safety in our communities. I spent the weekend speaking to these people and they are terrified.”
“It’s cruel. It’s impossible. It will end with children homeless. The only reasonable and compassionate thing to do is let them stay,” said Ms Blucher.
Once called into the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, people in this group will lose all financial support immediately and have 3 weeks to move out of supported accommodation and case work. The refugee sector will be left to provide appropriate support for these men, women and children.
People will retain Medicare and Work Rights. People cannot study and will need to report to the Department every 2 weeks.
The documents outline that visa holders will be given 6 months to arrange return to the countries from which they fled, or one of the offshore detention centers on Nauru or Manus.
This policy change is unnecessary and cruel and is part of the Government’s mandate to never resettle people in Australia. People were flown here for medical treatment and the Government is now trying to force people back to possible danger. People are frightened of what this new policy means for them. By removing access to support, the Government is intentionally making life for people who are starting to call Australia home intolerable and impossible so to break them into leaving.
Within weeks, the ASRC expects to receive at our doors, over 200 highly vulnerable people in need of immediate housing, food, material aid.
We are calling on our community of supporters to take action to stand with the hundreds of people and families impacted by this policy. Here’s what you can do: