13 May 2009

Emigrating to Australia through Humanitarian Program expanded for 2009-10

Emigrating to Australia through the Humanitarian Program will become easier in the 2009-10 financial year because of promised extensions by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

An extra 250 places will be made available for people emigrating to Australia through the Humanitarian Program in the next Budget year when compared with the 2008-09 planning levels, taking the total to 13 750 people (7,750 for special humanitarian visas and 6,000 for refugee protection visas).

Senator Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, said it is Australia's responsibility to take more action in helping those that are escaping war, political persecution or inhuman treatment in their homeland.

"Our move this year to a four-year planning framework will give us greater flexibility in responding to emerging humanitarian situations as they arise. It will also allow Australia to make a longer-term commitment to the resettlement of refugees in protracted situations, many of whom have been languishing in camps for years.

"Our main resettlement focus will continue to be on refugees from the three key regions of Africa, Asia and the Middle East."

The Government is also looking at introducing "protection arrangements" for those emigrating to Australia from heinous and life-threatening conditions in their home country. 

"This will allow Australia to meet our protection obligations under international human rights treaties to people who may not meet the Refugees Convention definition but who cannot return home because they would be killed or tortured," Senator Evans said.

"We currently meet these obligations separately through reliance on personal ministerial intervention powers which are not reviewable, transparent or subject to procedural fairness. These changes will entrench our non-return obligations in law and provide for all claims to be considered efficiently in one process."

Since coming into power and changing the laws for people emigrating to Australia illegally through people smuggling techniques, the Rudd Government has come under fire for making Australia look like a "soft" target for asylum seekers.  The Rudd Government continues to defend their position, saying that the new Australian immigration policies are in line with humanitarian rights. 

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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