Australia continues to bully and discriminate refugees by giving no option for protection – Ramesh Fernandez (25/05/2017)

The announcement by the Australian Government last Sunday to force refugees to lodge their applications by 1 October 2017 is merely more cruel, calculated, systemic discrimination.

The Coalition Government is targeting refugees who have arrived in Australia by boat during the period between August 2012 until the end of 2013. Over 7000 asylum seekers are caught in this discriminative ‘Fast Track’ process.

We should not forget that Labor designed this offshore policy with the help of a three-member ‘expert panel’ including Foundation House CEO, Paris Aristotle.

We all know that the ‘fast track’ process offers no protection, only guaranteed unfair treatment. We should also not forget that the Australian government has deliberately cut funding to legal services assisting refugees. Under the ‘fast track’ process, there is minimum support for refugees’ claims but maximum discrimination; this process is designed to make it impossible to seek protection.

Three weeks ago, the Australian Government announced a vicious attack on refugees and migrants via proposals for a revised citizenship test. Just one week after that, the Australian government targeted refugees in offshore detention centres, forcing refugees and asylum seekers to either resettle in PNG or self-deport.

Now, the Australian government is turning its attention to refugees onshore. Peter Dutton has justified this process by whipping up hysteria around “fake refugees” while also refusing to disclose the number of boat arrivals to Australia and deporting refugees back to danger.

No refugees want to be left in limbo. The Australian government has not provided proper legal or community support for refugees who arrived during 2012/13. They were kept in the community without opportunities to seek protection and had their cases were mishandled by the Department of immigration.

Now the government wants to target the backlog of unprocessed refugees because our communities are the most vulnerable and helpless. Refugees should be allowed to seek protection and should be provided adequate support to seek protection, not punished for how we arrive to this country.