The NJP releases investigative journal: ‘Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and COVID-19’

4 August 2020

Australia has enjoyed relative early success in its containment of the COVID-19 outbreak, even noting recent spikes in VIC, however, experts warn that we are merely months into what is realistically going to be a year or years-long crisis.

Our detention centres experience continued exposure from staff and lack any feasible social distancing measures, allowing the distinct possibility for a natural, epidemic curve to emerge amongst this population of immunologically naïve individuals.[1] Continuing to fail to international advice to take action to protect those held in immigration detention would be reckless of the Australian Government and potentially fatal for our onshore and offshore refugees and asylum seekers.

Moreover, the COVID-19 outbreak has placed a global spotlight on the general and ongoing sanitary difficulties of cramped living conditions in our immigration detention centres. This calls for urgent policy reform in health-care access and migration laws to better protect these invisible at-risk populations.

At the National Justice Project we are committed to ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers who are in onshore and offshore detention have the right to equal access and status under the law. We firmly believe that this vulnerable group remains Australia’s responsibility and the Government should provide them with the necessary medical care and support, especially during a global pandemic that disproportionately affects disadvantaged members of society. We believe the Government is currently failing to rise to their responsibilities in this regard. Noting this, Jannah Anderson, Rachael Farrell, and Samantha Cobcroft authored an investigative journal delving deep into this issue, on behalf of the National Justice Project. You can read it here.

Without urgent action from the Government and Minister Dutton, people will have to rely on court proceedings to ensure their safety, which would represent an unnecessary expense of money and resources on both sides.