Even Once They Win It, Citizenship Is Used Against Refugees

This article was original published on New Matilda.

Citizenship has been a hot topic for the Australian government over the last year. While debate surrounding the new anti-terrorism laws has received significant attention, another hidden attack on citizenship is taking place behind the scenes.

Refugees on permanent visas, who have been in Australia for over four years and are thus eligible to receive citizenship have been experiencing significant delays when applying.

Most of these people have one thing in common – they applied for protection after arriving in Australia by boat.

Now, four years later, they are still being punished simply because of a choice they made under desperate circumstances.

Continue reading “Even Once They Win It, Citizenship Is Used Against Refugees”

Delays to citizenship for refugees appears discriminatory

Refugee Council of Australia’s research has shown refugees are being denied their right to citizenship, even after meeting all the requirements set by Government, seemingly because of the mode in which they arrived in Australia. Lead Researcher, Asher Hirsch, talks to the ABC about what appears to be a discriminatory practice, although not an official policy.

Read the full report here.

Delays to citizenship for refugees appears discriminatory from Refugee Council of Australia on Vimeo.

Submission to the Attorney-General regarding changes to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975

Here is my submission, on behalf of the Refugee Council of Australia, to the Attorney-General regarding changes to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

Racism and discrimination are issues that have a significant impact on refugee communities in Australia and this submission highlights the impacts of the proposed amendments. RCOA strongly opposes these proposed amendments to the RDA as we believe they weaken protections against racism, racial vilification and discrimination towards refugee communities.

RCOA submits that sections 18B, 18C, 18D and 18E protect from the harm of racial vilification and discrimination, as exemplified by almost 20 years of case law. RCOA believes that the proposed amendments would provide a licence to the community to engage in racist behaviour and may lead to further acts of racially motivated violence. RCOA also argues that there is a lack of a clear rationale for these changes, which have only been brought about after extensive media attention regarding one case. Indeed, research shows that these laws have been considered in less than 100 finalised court cases since 1995 and RCOA argues that the courts have applied these laws reasonably and appropriately.

Many refugee communities know all too well the fine line between racial vilification and racial persecution. People of refugee background consulted in the preparation of this submission emphasised the importance of protecting against racist hate speech, which can easily lead to racially motivated violence, physiological harm and other serious issues. Many refugee communities have fled persecution on the basis of their race, being one of the five grounds on which people are entitled to seek protection as refugees under the Refugee Convention. Refugee communities are among the minority groups who would be most affected by these changes to the law and as such it is important to consider their needs when assessing the proposed amendments.