Asylum seekers – an excruciating process

Slow track to dawn: Asylum seekers submit their futures on an excruciating process

By Michael Gordon – The Age – 10 March 2017

Nasir* waited almost five years for the chance to state his case for being given refugee status and protection in Australia. Then he had just a single day to nail it.

If the 29-year-old Rohingyan felt the pressure as he sat across the desk from a lawyer two years his junior in a Collingwood office on a sunny autumn day this week, it did not show.

As Nasir’s words were interpreted, David Burke, whose day job is in insurance litigation at Lander & Rogers, one of Melbourne’s leading commercial law firms, took the notes that he would draw on to prepare Nasir’s statement seeking protection.

Like Nasir, Burke had no illusions about the importance of this day. “You are sitting across the desk from somebody and you know that this is their one opportunity to tell their story and to get it right – and that their future hangs in the balance,” he says.

The same goes for other corporate lawyers from 12 firms, who leave their offices in the city each Tuesday to work pro bono at this clinic, preparing applications for a group of asylum seekers who are known as the “legacy caseload”.

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