Media Release                                                            22 May, 2017

St Vincent de Paul Society calls for 1 October deadline for asylum seeker applications to be revoked

The St Vincent de Paul Society has condemned the Federal Government’s latest ultimatum to asylum seekers, urging it to revoke the arbitrary October deadline for submitting their claims and provide better funding to support legal support and interpreting services.

The Society says the 1 October deadline for about 7500 asylum seekers to submit documents amounting to as many as 60 pages will in most cases, deny them access to a fair and proper process.

“This latest announcement is cruel, morally reprehensible and a fundamental repudiation of the Government’s moral and legal obligations to those seeking asylum in Australia,” the Society’s National Council CEO Dr John Falzon said.

“Many of these asylum seekers were not invited to apply for a protection visa until relatively recently.”

At the same time, the Government has cut funding to legal assistance and interpreting services, forcing people to navigate complex legal processes on their own.

The Society says speeding up the process will result in the group, which includes men, women and children, not having access to adequate legal representation or legal advice.

"The UNHCR has raised concerns that flaws in Australia's refugee determination process may lead to vulnerable people being returned to places where they are at risk of serious harm," said Dr Falzon.

“People who seek asylum have a legal right to have their claims properly processed and in a safe and timely way.”

The Society is concerned the Federal Government’s latest announcement will only result in a rush of people submitting incomplete forms, leaving them vulnerable to being sent back to danger.

“We urge the government to instead provide asylum seekers with the legal support they need, to enable their claims to be assessed in a fair manner,” Dr Falzon said.

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For further information about this issue, see our information briefing on the new application deadline for asylum seekers