Saturday, April 13, 2024

Council taskforce launches asylum seeker campaign

A taskforce of Mayors and local councils across Australia will today launch a campaign aimed at improving the Federal Government’s treatment of people seeking asylum who live in the community.

The Back Your Neighbour Campaign is auspiced by the Local Government Mayoral Taskforce Supporting People Seeking Asylum.

In a statement, the Taskforce said estimates put the number of community-based people seeking asylum at well over 100,000, including children, with some households living in limbo for almost a decade while their applications are processed.

During this time, people are denied access to funded safety nets such as Medicare, income support, housing, education, mental health and material aid. This approach prevents individuals and families from gaining the stability that refugee status provides, resulting in vulnerable people living in poverty for years, it said.

Taskforce Chair and Mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong, Jim Memeti (pictured), said it was a cruel and unreasonable approach.

“People need stability and support while they build their lives in the community. That means a fast and efficient process for assessing asylum applications and support in the meantime to help people survive,” the Mayor said.

“Greater Dandenong has a high number of people seeking asylum living in our community and we see how hard it is for them every day. It puts pressure on council services and local charities are stretched to breaking point because of cost-shifting from federal to state and local governments. It is time for Minister Hawke and the Federal Government to act.”

“As Mayor, I see the benefits of multiculturalism first hand. Our community in Dandenong embraces people from every corner of the world and that’s one of the reasons why it is such a great place to live.”

“Instead of making people struggle to survive, we should be welcoming them into local communities around Australia and sharing the great things that happen as a result.”

Mayor Memeti said the Back Your Neighbour Campaign will be active in the lead-up to the 2022 Federal Election and will advocate with all federal politicians and candidates.

The taskforce is calling on the Federal Government to:

  1. Replace the existing ‘Fast Track’ system with a single Refugee Status Determination process and an independent, timely and fair merits review;
  2. Replace Temporary Protection Visas with a permanent humanitarian visa;
  3. Increase funding to urgently clear the backlog of asylum applications and appeals;
  4. Provide access to Medicare, income support, employment, mental health and other vital services.

It is also calling on state and territory governments to:

  1. Provide funding to local services who are supporting individuals and families seeking asylum.

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