Our response to the government’s TPV decision: more must be done

Last Updated on 28/02/2023 by National Justice Project

We welcome the government’s decision to provide permanent visas to around 20,000 people on temporary protection visas (TPV), but we believe more needs to be done to provide protection to people seeking asylum.

We have received many enquiries from supporters and community members relating to the recent decision to provide pathways to permanent protection. Here, we answer some of those questions:

Does NJP work in migration law?

No, our legal team does not work in migration law, and unfortunately we are unable to assist clients with visa matters. We encourage you to seek advice from a migration lawyer who may be able to assist you.

There are a number of resources which may help you secure appropriate advice – here is a short list:

What is NJP’s position on the TPV announcement?

We welcome the recent announcement that the government will provide permanent visa pathways for around 20,000 existing Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) holders.

However, we recognise that the new policy is insufficient, and that too many refugees continue to live in limbo. The decision applies only to people who arrived in Australia before 1 January 2014, and the decision does not abolish TPVs.

We believe that TPVs and SHEVs should be abolished, and that all people seeking asylum in Australia who are found to be refugees should be issued with permanent protection visas regardless of how and when they arrived. The should have their cases reviewed and processed in a timely manner.

What reforms is NJP advocating for?

We advocate for compassionate treatment of people seeking asylum. This would mean reforming migration laws to:

  • Abolish TPVs and SHEVs
  • Abolish eligibility restrictions based on health and disability
  • Grant people on bridging visas full access to income support, Medicare, the PBS and the NDIS, together with the automatic right to work and study
  • Remove terms such as ‘unauthorised’ and ‘illegal’ when referring to people seeking asylum who arrive without a valid visa
  • Afford the same priority and eligibility criteria to all applications for family reunion, regardless of a person’s mode of arrival or type of visa

How can NJP’s legal cases impact migration policy?

Until we secure systematic reforms, we will continue to take legal action to hold the government to account for breaching its duty of care and obligations to refugees.

For five years, we have been representing 42 refugee clients who are seeking accountability for the lifelong harm they suffered while in offshore detention.

If those cases are successful, we will set a ground-breaking legal precedent that allows refugees to hold the government to account for the physical and psychological harm they suffered in immigration detention.

This precedent would require changes in Australia’s offshore detention policies, and it would help prevent anyone else from experiencing the torturous conditions of offshore detention.

Ultimately, our cases – if successful – would help ensure a more humane approach to processing people seeking asylum in the future.

In 2019, our legal team went to the High Court to defend our clients’ right to take legal action against the government. Today, we are progressing our cases in lower courts, where we hope to secure accountability for the harm they suffered.