Tuesday, May 01, 2007


ALP policy change
This weekend the Australian Labor Party held their National Policy Conference. Along with other organisations, A Just Australia lobbied hard on ending Temporary Protection Visas and granting work rights to asylum seekers on Bridging Visas. The change to Bridging Visas was something AJA and National Council of Churches worked particularly hard on together - working with Labor for Refugees, traveling to Canberra to lobby key MPs as well as negotiating implementation models directly with the Shadow Minister for Immigration.

We are pleased to tell you that this work paid off, with both amendments being accepted by vote at the conference. See the ALP website for more details, although as of Monday 30th they said it will be a few days before they upload the new platform. (But see below for the TPV and BVE changes)

We could not do this work without your support, both in your letter writing and your financial support. There is still a long way to go on issues such as offshore processing where asylum seekers do not have the same access to legal rights as onshore applicants. If you are not yet a financial member of AJA, please consider becoming one for only $50 per year. Membership gives you voting rights at our annual general meeting, as well as being able to run for a position on the board. Many of our members or general supporters also pledge monthly donations. This core funding allows our lobbying work to continue, with successful results such as the above changes to ALP policy.

Sign up for membership or regular donations or donate online

Thanks for all your support.

Kate Gauthier
For the A Just Australia team

TPV change
Asylum seekers who are independently determined to be refugees under the Migration Act 1958 will be given permanent protection.

BVE Change
Labor recognises that the arbitrary 45 day rule results in legitimate asylum seekers on Bridging Visas being unnecessarily denied the right to work while their claim is being processed. It also prevents immigration officers from denying work rights to frivolous claims within the 45-day period. Labor will work to develop guidelines based on merit so that frivolous or vexatious applications will be denied those rights, instead of applying an arbitrary 45 day time limit.
Asylum seekers in Lombok, Indonesia
From Felicia Di Stefano:

Thank you for your past help. We urgently need your help once again.

The good news is that from about 67 there are now 21 Afghan asylum seekers detained on Lombok. Mohammad has been accepted by NZ and is now studying English, others have been moved to Jakarta and interviewed by representatives of countries that will resettle them.

The bad news, and this is why we urgently need you help again, is that the 21 Afghan asylum seekers who are left on Lombok do not have protection status and are now illegal immigrants. The three families (eight children ages ranging from three to 19) and seven single people, are being coerced by IOM and Indonesian officials to return to Afghanistan which is becoming a war zone.

The people are at risk of being arrested by the Indonesian police and are being threatened with quarantine. People who have been in quarantine report a tiny cell with the bare floor to sleep on, starvation rations and an indefinite time, depending on how much money you have to bribe the guards.

Attached is a form letter addressed to Kevin Andrews, the minister for immigration. You are welcome to put your name, date and signature and post it off, or write your own letter. Also, it would be good to write to the federal representative for your electorate and any one you feel may be able to take notice for whatever reason.

Here is the form letter. Every letter does count. Please send letters urgently.

Thank you, once again for your support.

Warm regards, Felicia Di Stefano, member South Gipplsand RAR