Protesters demand policy overhaul for Temporary Protection Visas

Asylum seekers and refugee advocates have come together to hand-deliver their demands for an overhaul of Australia's Temporary Protection and Safe Haven Enterprise visas.

Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside the Sydney CBD office of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to demand an overhaul of policies impacting those seeking asylum.

Temporary protection visa holders were among the crowd calling on the federal government to overhaul the visa process by speeding up the transition to permanent residency.

Chants of "justice for refugees" ring out as protesters gather outside the inner Sydney office of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Source: Adam Marsters/SBS News

Advocates argue the current process is threatening to tear families apart, with TPV and Safe Haven Enterprise visa recipients forced to reapply for their permits after several years.

Rusul’s husband has been found a genuine refugee and currently lives in Australia on a SHEV - but the risk of future deportation threatens to tear their family apart.

Rusul fears her husband will be forced to return to Iraq when his SHEV expires.
Source: Alice Trenoweth-Creswell/SBS News

“We’re not settled, we don’t know what is going to happen in the future, we don’t know if we have to shift countries. Now we have a baby we can’t just go back (to Iraq)…it probably means a family breakup if he doesn’t get permanent residency,” she said.

“We’ve been here for a long time. We’ve finished our university. I can never imagine going back and living in Iraq, you go shopping and you don’t know if you’ll make it home. I hope justice is served.”

Refugee groups are also demanding the Home Affairs office rethink current policies which block visa holders from making efforts to bring their family to Australia.

Murtadha Alzubaidy was among the young men lending their voice to the rally after having separated from his brother a decade ago.

Murtadha Alzubaidy says Australia's asylum policies send the wrong message to the world.
Source: Alice Trenoweth-Creswell/SBS News

“We haven’t seen our family in a long time…eight years, nine years, 10 years, it’s too long (to wait). I haven’t seen my little brother in ten years. I’m scared of that relationship if he comes to Australia - that relationship will not be brother to brother anymore. I can hear my Dad cry when he hears about it.”

Published 12 August 2019 at 4:42pm, updated 12 August 2019 at 7:46pm
By Adam Marsters