17 January 2012

Human rights advocate calls on Australia to grant more refugee visas

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Australian immigration policy has come under heavy criticism in recent times due to its overcrowded detention centres, stringent asylum procedures and overseas processing facilities. This has led to many human rights and refugee advocates, as well as opposition politicians, to call for a change in policy.

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Australian immgiration policy has come under heavy fire in recent times.

Australia is one of the most difficult countries to reach in the world and only receives relatively low numbers of asylum seekers yet, according to the Refugee Council of Australia, many common myths have arisen regarding asylum seekers and the number of refugees handed an Australian visa.

Australia received just over 8,000 applications for asylum in 2010, a figure which, despite causing so much concern within Australian politics, is just a fraction of those received in other countries. Both Europe and Africa regularly receive over a quarter of a million applications a year while the US apprehends almost 300 migrants a day from Latin America alone.

Despite there being more than 10 million classified refugees in the world, less than 1% have been resettled in recent times which, according to the Refugee Council of Australia, if this rate is continued it would take almost 200 years to resettle all the existing refugees.

The Australian Department of Immigration granted just under 14,000 protection visas between 2010 and 2011, this included almost 9,000 offshore visas.

It is this offshore processing which has drawn the most criticism; as each onshore applicant is granted a visa, the Australian government deducts one place from the offshore programme. The Refugee Council of Australia has highlighted the fact that no other country in the world links their onshore and offshore refugee programmes like this.

At a recent protest on the streets outside the electoral office of Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon claimed the Australian immigration authorities was mishandling the refugee issues citing the "lack of a humanitarian approach and failure to abide by international obligations" as the source of the problems.


The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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