Addressing The Pain of Separation for Refugee Families

Addressing The Pain of Separation for Refugee Families

Refugee Council of Australia Report – November 2016

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“Family reunion is key.” – Former refugee from South Sudan

Impact of protracted family separation

A common refrain from people from a refugee background who have participated in RCOA’s consultations is that the physical security offered by Australia is offset by ongoing mental anguish of family separation. People commonly refer to their serious concerns for the safety and welfare of family members left behind. A former refugee living in Melbourne, for example, reported that her brother had been kidnapped and killed in Iraq after having twice had a visa application refused by Australia

Summary Recommendations

Recommendation 1

Allocating at least 5,000 visas under the family stream of the Migration Program for refugee and humanitarian entrants.

Recommendation 2

Introducing needs­-based concessions under the family stream of the Migration Program.

Recommendation 3

Conducting a consultation with refugee communities, practitioners involved in providing support with family reunion applications and other relevant stakeholders to develop a process for assessing eligibility for the concessions

Recommendation 4

Significantly reducing existing processing times for family reunion applications, improving procedures for communicating with visa proposers and applicants, restoring funding for professional migration advice services, expanding the no­interest loan scheme and extending eligibility for the scheme, reviewing thedefinition of “family” used to assess and prioritise family reunion applications and removing current restrictions on family reunion for refugees who arrived by boat

Recommendation 5

Substantially reducing the visa application charges, increasing the size of the Community Support Program and breaking the numerical link between this program and Refugee and Humanitarian Program

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