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National RAR update. January 2023


10th January 2023

Hello to all RAR Members and Supporters – welcome to the latest RAR update.

We hope that you have taken time to rest, enjoy time with loved ones, recharge your batteries, and prepare for the year ahead. It will undoubtedly be a challenging one for refugees and asylum seekers across the world, and we will need to retain our passion and resolve to support them in every way we can.

Permanent residency for some, sometime in 2023

In late December, the government announced that the 19,614 refugees who currently hold either Temporary Protection Visas or Safe Haven Enterprise Visas will finally be granted permanent visas in 2023. This is most welcome news. However, the government has said nothing about when in 2023 it will grant these people permanent protection, nor has it offered any information about the process for the transfer, which leaves a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety for the refugees involved. It is in everybody’s interests, including those of the NGOs and other groups who will be involved in the process, to have some clarity about when and how the transfer will be actioned.

We then need to ask what will happen to the other 12,000 asylum seekers and refugees living in Australia on various types of temporary visas. After more than a decade, some of them have not yet had their cases assessed, others are still waiting on the outcome of their applications, and many have had their applications refused because decision-makers have relied on outdated and flawed country information. It also has to be said that, with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal stacked with supporters of the previous government, many applicants were treated less than fairly, in spite of the merits of their case. The announcement of the abolition of the current AAT is most welcome, and we await news of the new appointments to the Tribunal and  details about when it will resume its operation. We look forward to a fair, timely and transparent process in the Tribunal’s treatment of applications for protection.

Surely, the most sensible, fair and compassionate approach to the treatment of these 12,000 legacy caseload asylum seekers is to expedite their transfer to permanent protection as soon as they have met the criteria for refugee status. They have been here for a decade or more, and we owe them the opportunity to finally have some sense of permanency and belonging, so that they can at last begin to rebuild their shattered lives.

Please consider writing to the Minister for Home Affairs, Clare O’Neil, and the Minister for immigration, Andrew Giles, about the issues outlined above.

  • Welcome the decision to grant permanent visas to the 19,614 people currently holding TPVs and SHEVs.
  • Urge them to urgently publish the timeline and process for the transfer to permanent protection.
  • Welcome the abolition of the AAT.
  • Urge them to urgently consider the plight of the 12,000 legacy caseload asylum seekers, and to expedite their claims for protection. In the meantime, the government should cease harassing these people to make arrangements for their departure to third countries. They are Australia’s responsibility and the government should show them some compassion.

Email addresses:


Little progress for asylum seekers on Nauru and in PNG

After more than a decade of torment and punishment, it seems extraordinary that the Labor government continues to ignore the plight of the almost 200 asylum seekers and refugees remaining on Nauru and in PNG. The government’s clear intent is that they should remain there until such time as they find third countries prepared to accept them, regardless of how long this might take. The plan to resettle 150 refugees a year in New Zealand, which excludes those in PNG, but does include some refugees in Australia, is a painfully slow process.

Meanwhile, the US-based Management and Training Corporation is being paid handsomely to provide “garrison and welfare services” to less than 100 people on Nauru. An amended contract notice, published on 23rd December, shows that the government is now paying MTC a total of $69 million for four months work up to the end of January. This is the same company that is now the subject of further potentially criminal allegations in the US, where it is alleged that MTC made prisoners sign falsified documents, enabling it to claim millions of dollars for in-prison therapeutic services that it did not provide.

Unsurprisingly, most of the refugees, who have been stranded on Nauru for a decade, are suffering from mental health issues, which is proving to be a serious obstacle in relation to completing their applications for resettlement in third countries.

The humane, and cost-effective solution, is for these refugees to be transferred to Australia to live in the community and to receive the support that they need whilst their resettlement applications are finalised.

Please consider writing to the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Immigration (details above).

  • Urge them not to extend the MTC contract beyond the end of January.
  • Ask them to transfer all the refugees who remain on Nauru to Australia to live in the community whilst their applications for resettlement are finalised.


Proposed actions at MPs offices


The first 2023 sitting of Federal Parliament is in the week starting 6th February. Those involved in November's Canberra convergence have suggested that groups rally outside as many MPs’ and Senators’ offices as possible in the preceding week, namely from 30th January to 3rd February. The intention is to send a coordinated message to MPs and Senators that they must urgently grant permanent visas to all the refugees currently on temporary visas.

The main focus needs to be on ALP MPs, plus the TEALs and Independents.  Rar groups in Coalition electorates are encouraged to take other actions, such as handing out leaflets to passing foot traffic outlining the issue and purpose of the action and writing a letter that is delivered to the MP: there are proposals to produce templates for both, and these will be circulated to groups in advance.

There is of course some value on the actions being on a single day, but it is probably better for RAR members to organise an event which best suits their needs and availability.

Please contact the RAR National President, Jonathan, at if you are interested, to help with coordination nationally.


Afghan sponsorship successes

During the Christmas break, the Department of Immigration granted several protection visas to Afghan individuals and families. A human rights lawyer and her four children who had fled to Iran several months ago were granted a Safe Haven Protection Visa. Three single women – a midwife and two women who had served in the Afghan army - and who had been moved to Pakistan with RAR support, were also granted visas. A father of seven, who had been a colonel in the Afghan army, was also, along with his family, granted protection.

We hope that this gives RAR supporters real hope and confidence that hard work and lobbying does bring results. We must move ahead in 2023 with renewed vigour.

Marie Sellstrom.

Convenor, Afghan sponsorship.


Palm Sunday Rallies: save the date

Palm Sunday, which falls on 2nd April this year, has been an important national date for rallies and other activities in support of refugees. RAR members have regularly made it a part of their calendar of events, though in recent times this has been more difficult due to the Covid pandemic.

The Australian Refugee Action Network, in which RAR is involved, has begun holding meetings to propose themes and provide resources for Palm Sunday actions. Your group can be part of Palm Sunday actions this year, so please start planning how you can use the occasion to keep up the pressure on the Labor government for permanent settlement for all.

Further details will be shared with RAR groups as they emerge.


Lessons for today from a refugee story of 1956

A few years ago, Sandy Watson, who is the convenor of the Trentham RAR group , wrote a book called  One Perfect Day. It was the story of 18-year-old Veronika Csosz who grew up in post-World War II in Hungary and fled the country after the Soviet forces invaded Budapest in 1956. Sandy writes:

This was the first time that the United Nations Refugee Agency and the international community had to deal with a refugee crisis of this magnitude, resettling 200,000 Hungarians in 37 countries in three years. It was a fantastic example of what can be done when the international community rallies and – as the world grapples with 89.3 million refugees forcibly displaced – of the urgent need for the international community to find ways to not only address and properly support communities managing displacement, but also to work together to minimize the causes.

Sandy has recently released an audio version of the book.

Originally published in 2013, One Perfect Day: Memoir of Veronika Csosz audio book is available now For further information, contact author Sandy Watson

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