Jesuits worried temporary protection is second rate

The Jesuit Refugee Service has voiced concern over the "second rate protection" offered to refugees, including the 42 West Papuan refugees granted temporary visas last week.

While welcoming the decision to allow 42 West Papuan refugees to stay in Australia, the Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service Fr David Holdcroft said that the decision to grant them temporary protection is "just not good enough".

Fr Holdcroft said that the Federal Government makes an artificial distinction between refugees arriving via the United Nations and those arriving uninvited via the 'front door'.

"The Department of Immigration has recognised them (the West Papuan refugees) as bona fide refugees. They took the most expeditious 'front door' route to safety, boarding traditional dugout canoes and making a beeline for Cape York. And yet they are denied the red carpet 'front door' treatment. Why?

"This case throws a spotlight on the arbitrary and unjust results that flow from discriminating against refugees according to how they got here," said Fr Holdcroft.

Among other restrictive measures, refugees living on temporary protection visas are not able to access government sponsored resettlement services such as English classes, and must prove their refugee claims again after three years.

Refugees on temporary visas are also billed for their ordeal, Fr Holdcroft said. "Every refugee released from detention is billed for their own incarceration and the account must be settled in full before they can hope to leave Australia and return, or become Australian citizens."

"This, surely, is no way to welcome refugees to Australia," Fr Holdcroft said. "It's a millstone, not a welcome mat."

Temporary protection is second rate protection (Jesuit Refugee Service Australia 24/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Jesuit Refugee Service (Australia)

27 Mar 2006