Important step forward at National Conference as ALP recommits to rights for people seeking asylum

Media Release
18 August 2023

Important step forward at National Conference as ALP recommits to rights for people seeking asylum

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) National Conference passed a series of amendments to the National Platform today, which further commits the Albanese Government to ensure the rights of people seeking asylum and refugees.

Following an event at the Conference hosted by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) on the need for work rights, study rights and the right to mainstream social support for people seeking asylum, the conference passed two meaningful changes to the platform on this issue.

Firstly, the ALP committed to providing not just work rights, but also study rights to people while their protection claim is being processed; secondly, it strengthened the policy concerning providing social support.

Further positive changes include, the recommitment to abolish Temporary Protection Visas and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas; the appointment of a Special Envoy for Refugee and Asylum Seeker Issues; enshrining the ‘90 day rule’ into law, and initiating a parliamentary inquiry into immigration detention.

These are welcome and important policies that when implemented will improve the community and lives of people seeking asylum.

You can read ASRC’s submission to the ALP Draft National Convention here.

Ogy Simic, Director of Advocacy at ASRC said: “Today is an important day of progress with the ALP not just recommitting to their platform but making meaningful commitments that when implemented will make a difference in people’s lives.

“We now need the Albanese Government to action these commitments so they are realised for the families and individuals seeking asylum in urgent need of these rights and further protections.”

Sajeeda Saama, Community Organiser at ASRC said: “Policies can either give people life or take it away from them. I have lost my cousin to the hands of the current policy framework just last month, when he gave up hope after years of waiting. I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to someone else. Today’s changes are a vital step in the right direction to give people hope and ensure the dignity of thousands of human lives.”

Paul Schmidt, Coordinator of the ASRA network of service providers in Queensland, said: “These changes make plain sense. We need a safety net for people seeking asylum to reduce the impact on their mental health, the reliance on charities and to treat people with dignity.

Emma, a refugee who is waiting for her protection claim to be assessed for more than seven years, said: “As a single parent precluded from mainstream services I have found it impossible to rebuild my life in Australia. I have never been able to have a community because I’m forced to move from place to place depending on what work I can find, which is even more difficult now given the cost of living crisis. The ALPs policies are a step in the right direction but the Labor Government now needs to implement these policies so that people like me and my son can live in safety.”

An earlier version of this press release referred to ALP’s support for “mainstream support services” where’s their amended national platform only makes reference to “appropriate social support”.


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