Eight long years
Written by Rob Floyd, Assembly Associate General Secretary and Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
19 July 2021 marked eight long years since then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that “…as of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia.” This decision has gone on to become bipartisan policy that remains in place.
Since then, over 3,100 people seeking asylum in Australia have been sent ‘offshore’ to Papua New Guinea and Nauru. There have been 14 deaths and immeasurable suffering.
What has happened to these people?
- 1223 have been transferred to Australia for medical treatment, but are in limbo with no path to safe resettlement (including 192 Medevac refugees)
- 125 are still in PNG and 108 are still on Nauru – not detained, but in limbo
- 942 have left for resettlement in United States (with a further 240 having provisional approval)
- The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) estimates that about 1200 of the 3,100 people subjected to offshore processing since 2013 are in limbo with no pathway to safe resettlement
The costs of detention, both offshore and onshore, in each Federal Budget remain extraordinarily high.
The Refugee Council of Australia indicates that the offshore processing regime will cost another $811.8 million in 2021-22, taking the cumulative allocation to more than $8.3 billion since the Coalition Government’s first budget in 2014.
At the same time, the 2021-22 allocation for onshore detention and compliance has been increased to $1.27 billion.
I encourage members of the UCA who feel strongly about this to take some time this week to reach out to their local Members of Parliament and other community leaders to express our deep concern over this situation and call for compassionate, meaningful and lasting action.
The Australian Refugee Action Network (ARAN) has a page of resources available with further information that might assist to inform people and help them focus local actions.