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SA priest travels to Canberra to plead TPV holders' case

Fr Tony Pearson of Adelaide's Otherway Aboriginal and refugee ministry in Adelaide was in Canberra yesterday with temporary protection visa (TPV) holders to ask the Federal Government to reassess their cases.

The TPV holders, who arrived in Australia mainly by boat from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, say they can't apply for permanent residence in Australia until their cases are reassessed after 30 months. Many of the visas are now coming up for review.

Fr Pearson told ABC Radio's The World Today that many TPV holders have psychological problems because they are terrified of being deported. He said that after three years many TPV holders have established lives and jobs, but are suffering enormous stress because they have no long-term assurance that they can stay in Australia.

He said: "A few years ago if you were recognised as a refugee you would have been accepted for permanence in Australia, and you'd have had permanent residence, but that was changed and now you are three years, given three years protection, after that you have to prove all over again that you are really a refugee."

Fr Pearson said Australia is the only western country which grants temporary status to proven refugees, and is also the only one that requires refugees to be reassessed. He argued that the constant fear of being deported resulted in one TPV holder committing suicide in February.

He said that while the Federal Government puts forward the view that these measures deter people smugglers, they are effectively punishing people who have already suffered, rather than the smugglers themselves.

"Three years is a very long time to tease someone with temporary residence," he said. "They're having a taste of a good country which we all love, and they've grown to love, and then they're having that whisked away from them if they can't prove after three years that they still are refugees."

Refugees head to Canberra to appeal to Fed Govt (ABC Radio The World Today 24/11/03)

Letter shatters Australian dream (The Age 25/11/03)
Otherway Centre | Christmas Refugee Poster to support Temporary Protection Visa Refugees
Temporary Protection Visa Holders Applying for Further Protection (Department of Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs fact sheet)
Tampering with asylum: confessions of a Jesuit priest (Sydney Morning Herald 14/11/03)
Michelle Grattan: Fighting to let refugees stay (The Age 12/11/03)
Study calls for abolition of Temporary Protection Visa policy (RMIT University 17/6/03)

25 Nov 2003