Refugee Processing Legacy Caseload Initiative
Benedict Coyne, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) attended the launch of the Victorian Legal Aid Legacy Caseload Initiative on Sunday 17 April 2016. The initiative is in partnership with Justice Connect, Refugee Legal (Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre Inc) and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
Following the launch, ALHR wrote to the Attorney General of each State and Territory inviting a conversation around whether their Ministry, department and government will implement a similar initiative in their own jurisdictions.
On behalf of ALHR Bennadict Coyne wrote
“The Victorian Government has committed to providing funding for legal assistance and advice for the 11,000 Legacy Caseload arrivals currently living in the community on bridging visas or held in immigration detention. Through the Victorian Community Legal Centres Assistance Fund, the Government has provided $50,000 to Refugee Legal to expand its migration advice services in Melbourne and across rural and regional Victoria. The grant to Refugee Legal is part of $2 million provided over two years to community legal centres for a range of key frontline resources and programs.
In 2014, the Commonwealth Government withdrew most legal assistance funding for asylum seekers who had arrived in Australia by boat between August 2012 and January 2014. These asylum seekers, known as the ‘Legacy Caseload’, were further disadvantaged by changes to Commonwealth legislation, which denies them the right to review an adverse primary decision affecting their refugee claim. The Initiative will provide a fair-go to asylum seekers with difficulties understanding the legal process, due to language barriers or mental health issues caused by torture or trauma, and ensure they receive the legal assistance they need.
ALHR commends the Victorian Government’s moral leadership in launching the Legacy Caseload Initiative and thereby securing provision of the legal support that people seeking asylum are entitled to under international law. Presently, such legal support is being denied by the Commonwealth Government. Recent events demonstrate that State and Territory governments can take important and meaningful steps to protecting basic universally-recognised human rights where the Commonwealth Government will not.”
In response to the letter, ALHR has received some promising responses, the NSW Attorney General’s office in particular has agreed to meet with ALHR.
For a copy of the letter sent to the State and Attorney Generals from ALHR please click on the attachment below. To read some of the positive and promising responses received in response please click on the additional attachments below.