Temporary Protection Visas

Breaking News 13th May 2008: The End of the TPV regime. http://www.immi.gov.au/refugee/tpv_thv/abolition/index.htm information for TPV holders. see also:
A Jsut Australia Home page at www.ajustaustralia.com

Read Peter Mares on the Government’s “new deal” for TPV holders

Even when asylum seekers have satisfied the Department of Immigration that they are “genuine refugees”, this country has a characteristically ungenerous way of treating them. They are granted a Temporary Protection Visa which denies them security and certainty, and deprives them of certain fundamental needs such as access to English classes and the right to family reunion.

Those who have come here following traumatic events find this especially hard. Over 8000 people who have been recognised as genuine refugees are living in limbo in our society on Temporary Protection Visas. Here is some material which will explain the plight of TPV holders. First, the Amnesty education kit and the Greens leaflet present the basic facts, while the RMIT study expands on the suffering the TPV system causes:

Amnesty International Australia‘s Fact Sheet on Temporary Protection Visas. Also their TPV Education Kit: [PDF] produced by the Campaign for Permanent Protection in August 2003 – facts, stories, and statistics.

Temporary Protection Visas – Is This a Fair Go? Greens NSW leaflet explains what TVPs are, how they deny refugee rights guaranteed under the 1951 Refugee Convention and place asylum seekers in a psychologically damaging state of constant uncertainty. (Word, 108 kb)

Study calls for abolition of Temporary Protection Visa policya research study at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology found “many refugees on TPVs expected their release from detention centres to deliver freedom. However they experienced continuing despair, depression and deep uncertainty. The research findings directly implicate the TPV policy in the mental suffering and material disadvantage of refugees currently living in Australia …”

Temporary protection visas cause mental illness: research – ABC Radio The World Today, Friday, 30 January , 2004. “… a new study has found that temporary protection visas are having a devastating effect on the mental health of refugees. Researchers from the University of New South Wales have for the first time compared depression and stress among people on temporary protection visas with those who have permanent visas … they’ve found that a temporary visa increases the risk of developing depression and post-traumatic stress by 700 per cent …”

Download the Human Rights Watch memorandum on : Australia’s temporary protection visas compared with international standards : “Australia is the only country to require refugees who have already been recognized as genuine refugees, as a result of rigorous and demanding determination procedures, to re-prove their claim in light of new circumstances, several years later. … UNHCR’s Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status states that “[a] refugee’s status should not in principle be subject to frequent review to the detriment of his sense of security” … Review every three to five years may not be considered “frequent,” but combined with the rights-limited and conditional nature of a TPV, refugees holding these visas are certainly living in Australia without any sense of security. Evidence from trauma counseling centers (such as STARTTS) and other medical practitioners regarding the anxieties of TPV-holders support this assertion”.

Trauma strikes the soul: an attempt to explore and understand the impact of the temporary protection visa on clients in New South Wales. by Pearl Fernandes, Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), Sydney. (Word, 77 kb)

Refugee Council of Australia’s comments on TPVs (Sept 2003) including recent changes to the law. (Word) “the Temporary Protection Visa regime, in so much as it denies access to certain entitlements, is in breach of Australia’s obligations to refugees”

The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in Adelaide, South Australia has had more than two years involvement with the hundreds of Afghani TPV Refugees. We are convinced that the current Australian policy on refugees is both unjust and “un-Australian.” TPV Refugees are suffering at the hands of refugee policy in ways that are immoral and obscene. Serious emotional and psychological damage is being done to children, women and men who came to this country as beggars seeking help.” This website includes The Situation of TPV Refugees in Australia and refugee stories.

New South Wales’ failure to assist holders of Temporary Protection Visas Adjournment speech – Sylvia Hale (Greens) 4 Sept 2003. Australia’s treatment of refugees is nothing to be proud of. The federal Liberal government’s policy is shameless: It breaches the Geneva Convention, to which Australia is a signatory, and has been condemned by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Letter to Minister Ruddock from Iraqi TPV holders

To The Honourable Mr Philip Ruddock
Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs,

We the Iraqi temporary protection visa holders have suffered greatly under the TPV [temporary protection visa] regime, which we feel is unjust. Three years of living with the uncertainty and insecurity of temporary protection has resulted in ongoing trauma and suffering to many of us. This visa has also isolated us from the broader Australian community.

The media stereotypes that depict us as undeserving of permanent protection have affected the attitudes of the Australian community towards TPVs. Many of us have experienced increased racism, xenophobia and intolerance.

After patiently waiting in the hope of a permanent protection visa we have found ourselves in another uncertain situation when the period of the 3 years ran out – with no hope of getting a further protection visa.. This outcome has caused all sorts of frustration and feelings of hopelessness, not only to those who passed the 3 years, but to all TPVs who are still hoping to get a permanent protection status.
We believe we have been severely punished and discriminated against. We cannot endure any more suffering of this kind. It’s not just matter of a physical protection, Mr. Ruddock. We might have been secured physically so far, but in fact we feel we are being killed psychologically and mentally. We feel we are killed every moment. We are killed when we remember we’re temporarily living in Australia; whenever we remember that we left loved ones behind; and when we hear you announce that we may be sent back. We feel as if we are living in an environment of psychological battle.

We all believe that DIMIA has frozen the TPV applications for further protection due to the current situation in Iraq. This alteration to fair administrative process has caused more and more frustration and grief to all of us. We are already victims of wars, Mr. Ruddock; now we feel as though we are being victimised by a policy meant to protect us. How can you know when is Iraq going to be safe for us to return, Mr Ruddock? When and if Saddam’s regime goes, how long it will take until Iraq can rebuild? In the meantime, our lives are permanently on hold. How long will we wait? How many times in our lives should we start from scratch to rebuild our lives? We have already lost everything because of wars and persecution. On top of this, we have lost valuable years of our lives. Many of us have spent years looking for a refuge for ourselves and for our children’s future. Australia was the last station in our long journey looking for peace and freedom. It’s the only place we have felt physical safety, but we feel no real security while we are protected ‘temporarily’.
AI- Amel [hope] TPV Holders Association

Iraqi refugees in plea to stayThe Age, 9 Sept 2003