30 Jul 2019

    Refugees Wrapped A Fake Coffin In The Australian Flag To Protest Being Left In Limbo

    "Eight years is enough!"

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    Refugees held up a makeshift coffin wrapped in the Australian flag and said it represented the death of human rights in the country, as they protested against a harsh policy that has left their protection status in limbo for years.

    Hundreds of refugees descended on parliament house in Canberra on Monday to call for urgent changes to the government's Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) policies.

    TPVs were reintroduced by the Coalition government in 2014, when prime minister Scott Morrison was the immigration minister.

    A person on a TPV can stay in Australia on a temporary basis, but has to reapply either every three or five years and remains in legal limbo. They are also not permitted to apply to sponsor family members for visas and are denied the right to travel.

    The Refugee Action Coalition said in a statement: "Government policy has created a permanent underclass of refugees in Australian society vulnerable to exploitation, while they are denied family reunion and the right to travel."

    "Eight years is enough!" the crowd chanted, as they held up the coffin labelled "Human rights in Australia".

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    Many of the protesters arrived by boat prior to mid-2013 and have been waiting since then to have their claims for permanent protection assessed.

    Other refugees who arrived by boat after mid-2013 were never allowed entry into Australia and were sent to offshore detention on Christmas Island, Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, and Nauru.

    Hundreds remain detained on the two Pacific islands, some who have been there for six years.

    Earlier this year, the government announced funding for a study into suicide prevention among refugees and asylum seekers.

    The lead researcher, Dr Miriam Posselt from the University of South Australia, told BuzzFeed News the study was "likely" to show that the government's own policies contribute to suicide risk.

    "Certainly we’re aware that temporary protection visas (TPVs) and bridging visas are associated with prolonged uncertainty and feelings of hopelessness," she said. "It’s likely that those policies might contribute to increased risk."

    The Labor opposition has a policy of abolishing temporary protection visas.

    Lane Sainty is the editor of BuzzFeed News in Australia and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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