Small changes but legacy of neglect and inequality continues


Labor has once again abandoned people seeking asylum in the Federal Budget, continuing the legacy of neglect and inequality that has forced thousands into poverty and destitution.

The 2024-2025 Budget maintains the exclusion of thousands of people seeking asylum from work rights and mainstream social support, sending a clear message that an unjust system will remain for those left years in limbo while their protection claims are processed.

Labor has also continued the Morrison Government’s legacy of devastating cuts to social support for people seeking asylum, with the budget decreased for 2024-2025 by $20 million after a massive $21 million underspend in the past financial year. This is despite charities such as ASRC facing unprecedented demand for its frontline support services such as food, crisis housing and medical care.

Other blatant omissions in this year’s Budget include no increases to humanitarian intake and no pathway to permanency for the 7500 people failed by the flawed Fast Track system and overlooked by Labor since they were elected to Government in 2022.

This Budget reveals Labor has however continued its mammoth spending propping up the offshore detention regime, with $563,742 spent last financial year on offshore management and over $600,000 earmarked for holding 100 people on Nauru in 24-25.

The ASRC does welcome funding in this year’s Budget which provides some support to arrivals from Palestine and Israel, including  $ 0.9 million over two years to extend Medicare eligibility for Bridging Visa E holders and $2 million to Red Cross for emergency financial assistance for recent arrivals.

It is also positive to see $854.3 million funding earmarked for the (expected) soon to be established Administrative Review Tribunal.

Key points

  • No increase to humanitarian intake
  • Budget decrease of $20 million for ‘’asylum seeker’’ support, which funds Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS)
  • No pathway to permanency for the 7500 people failed by Fast Track
  • Minimal increased access to Medicare for people seeking asylum
  • No increased provision of work rights, study rights and access to mainstream social support for people seeking asylum
  • No support for refugees abandoned in PNG without food and financial aid
  • $854.3 million spending on rolling out the new Administrative Review Tribunal
  • Expanding the Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot trials to 30 June 2025
  • Spending over half a billion dollars in 2024-2025 to hold less than 100 people on Nauru
  • $71.2 million increased funding for Australian Border Force

Jana Favero, ASRC’s Head of Systemic Change
“Tonight, Labor has chosen to spend half a billion dollars on offshore cruelty and breadcrumbs on compassion for the thousands of people seeking asylum who are struggling to put food on the table.

What use is a university place, when you’re denied the right to study? What good is a stronger Medicare system, when you’re completely cut off from healthcare? $300 off your energy bill means nothing, when you don’t even have a secure place to call home.

“At the last election, people voted for Labor because they were tired of the inhumane treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum. This budget sends a clear message to families seeking safety from danger that they’re not a priority. That they are being left behind simply because of how they fled to Australia and their immigration status.”

Abishek Selvakumar, arrived in Australia aged 7 from Sri Lanka
“It is really disappointing that giving people work and study rights has not been part of the Albanese Government’s commitments in this Federal Budget.

“Despite completing high school last year, I now find myself unable to enrol in further education or secure employment due to my immigration status. Without the ability to officially work or study, my options are severely limited, and it feels like I’m constantly hitting roadblocks in my efforts to build a better future for myself.

“Having work rights would open up a world of opportunities for me and other refugees in similar situations. Not only would it allow us to pursue our career goals and contribute to the workforce, but it would also provide financial stability and independence. With the ability to work legally, I could earn a living wage, support myself and my family, and plan for my future with confidence. Moreover, work rights would enable me to fully integrate into Australian society, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment.”


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