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Lobbyist regrets lack of policy to support released detainees

Independent Catholic lobby group PolMin has welcomed the Federal Government's release of six immigration following a Federal Court ruling last week, but has raised "the real and specific concern that there exists no policy that actively supports [them] when they are released into the general community".

The full bench of the Federal Court ruled that the detention of asylum seekers who have exhausted their refugee claims, but could not return home, is unconstitutional.

"The release of these six detainees is a significant step," said PolMin. "It can only be regarded as the Government conceding that the Migration Act 1958 as currently framed does not provide for indefinite detention of asylum seekers whose applications for asylum have been rejected and who cannot be returned to their country of origin."

However PolMin described the move as a "flawed step" becaue "these asylum seekers are not entitled to any form of social support once released". PolMin pointed out that they cannot work or access medical or social services.

"They are poor and helpless," said spokesperson James McGillicuddy. "Who will look after them?"

PolMin is advocating what it calls the "Community Guardianship Policy".

"This policy entails the stateless asylum seeker being released into the care of a Community Guardian," said Friday's statement. "A Community Guardian would be a person or a group (such as a Religious Congregation or Community) accredited by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs."



Lobby challenges Govt to bring asylum seeker policy into line with court ruling (16/4/03)
Frank Brennan comments on the Al Masri decision 15/4/03 (Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre)
Court deals new rebuff to asylum seeker policy (Sydney Morning Herald 16/4/03)

22 Apr 2003