Nearly 1,900 Indian nationals claimed protection after arriving by air in the last financial year, slightly more than the number of applications lodged in 2017-2018, as per the Department of Home Affairs figures.
Only 36 asylum claims lodged by Indians in the last financial year resulted in a positive outcome, which means at least 92% of the applications decided by the Immigration Department in 2018-2019, were rejected.
A total of 1,864 protection visa applications were lodged by Indian nationals after arriving by plane, which experts point out is not a significant number when compared to the number of people who enter the country temporarily each year.
But it is important to point out that the number of claims filed is consistently increasing every year, as indicated by the Department of Home Affairs figures.
- 1,864 protection visa applications were lodged by Indian nationals in 2018-2019
- Only 36 applicants from India were granted refugee status in 2018-2019
- Indian nationals accounted for the third-largest source of protection visa claims in 2018-2019
Experts warn that a large number of these applicants have a “misplaced impression” or are fed “false information” which results in an influx of people seeking asylum, knowing that they don’t have a valid claim.
This year alone, 255 Indians lodged a protection visa claim after landing in the country by plane in the month of January.
Paul Power, the Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) told SBS Punjabi that “there is a great majority of people who think this might be a way to remain in the country for a longer duration.”
“I think people in the country temporarily think that asylum process might be for them to remain in Australia long term. I mean obviously, in the case of 36 who were granted refugee status, they were given good advice and they were able to demonstrate that they would suffer persecution or victimisation upon their return.
“What we are hearing anecdotally is that there are a number of things, for instance, some people have a misplaced impression or are given false information about what the asylum process is and don’t understand that their situation is not likely to result in an asylum claim,” said Mr Power.
He added that the claims are “unfortunately” responsible for the growing backlog of such applications and in turn compounding the delay.
“Really the best of dealing with these issues is to continue to enable people to put in claims if they believe that they actually have a need to be protected from persecution.
“But these must be dealt with as quickly and fairly as possible so that we avoid any problems with the refugee protection system being bogged down by people who have no strong claim for protection at all and are just seeing it as a way of remaining in the country for a few years because of the backlog and the processing,” added Mr Power.
Responding to the allegations raised by the opposition in the Senate last week, Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the government is curbing the number of unfounded claims from key countries.
"Australia has one of the most generous humanitarian programs in the world and we settle thousands of people in desperate need every year.
"Some people, unfortunately, seek to exploit our international obligations by lodging protection claims onshore which have no foundation – this issue is not new and is not unique to Australia," said Mr Tudge.
Another important caveat to consider is that only 450 asylum claims from Indian nationals were decided in 2019. This means that the remaining applicants were still waiting to hear on the result of their applications.
According to the Home Affairs figures released during a Senate Hearing in 2018, the average processing time for permanent protection visas from lodgement to the primary decision (excluding appeals) was 257 days or 8.5 months.
Rachel Saravanamuthu, a senior solicitor at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), a human rights organization that provides support to asylum seekers, blamed the Immigration Department’s “ineffective” system for the “protracted” delays.
“There are not enough resources. People are having to wait at least 3-3 years sometimes to even have an interview to have their protection claims assessed and I think that is the main problem with the processing system.
“I think there needs to be an increase in resources at the Department stage as well as the appeals stage and the court stage so that people’s protection visa applications are fairly assessed and also to avoid delays,” said Ms Saravanamuthu.
Onshore Humanitarian Program 2018–19
Protection visa lodgements by citizenship
Country of citizenship