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11.9.16

Law students enlisted to help clear asylum seeker claims backlog the Age 11 sep 2016




La Trobe law students enlisted to help 

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre clear 

claims backlog


An asylum seeker sits down in front of you, and tells you her life story. She hands over her papers, if she has any. She speaks only halting English, or perhaps none at all. The forms, with more than 60 questions, baffle her. Her life is on the line. And your task is to prepare the paperwork that will help her try to prove to the government that she deserves Australian protection.
This is not a drill.



Kobra Moradi from Afghanistan came to Australia in 2005, sponsored by her father, who came as a refugee in 2000. She is now a third-year law and international relations student at La Trobe University. Photo: Justin McManus

From Monday, students from La Trobe University's law school will be enlisted to help the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre clear a backlog of asylum claims; the so-called "legacy caseload" of tens of thousands of people who arrived in the surge in boat people coming under the Gillard and Rudd governments and whose asylum claims have still not been assessed.
Under changes introduced by Tony Abbott in 2014, thousands who arrived in Australia by boat between August 13, 2012 and December 31, 2013 are subject to so-called "fast track" measures. They can only apply for temporary protection visas and have limited avenues of appeal if their applications are not successful.
It's estimated 24,000 fall into this category – 10,000 of them in Victoria.
Refugee agencies have been overwhelmed by the sheer size of the group, and by the cuts to legal representation to asylum seekers (the Law Institute of Victoria says since 2014, the government has cut 80 per cent of funding for legal assistance to asylum seekers). 
Launching the project on Monday is Kobra​ Moradi​, who will bring a unique experience to her task: the 20-year-old Afghan-born woman came to Australia in 2005, sponsored by her father, who came as a refugee in 2000. She is now a third-year law and international relations student.
"My father could have been interviewed by someone who was against refugees or who didn't believe him, but they felt his pain and they believed him," she said.
"For that reason, now I live under the protection of one of the most powerful states in the world, without checkpoints and without people following me everywhere. Your humanity's recognised and therefore your rights are recognised."
Law school students will help hundreds of people fill in their paperwork, each spending up to 15 days on their task. Their work will count towards their course and their work will be strictly supervised by solicitors and teachers.
La Trobe's Head of Law Professor Patrick Keyzer said the unique partnership was based on shared beliefs.
"Both the law school and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre value human rights education for law students and high-quality legal education with a strong commitment to social justice, global issues and hands on perspective. This collaboration embodies all of that," Professor Keyzer said.

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