House debates

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Constituency Statements

Asylum Seekers

4:00 pm

Photo of Kate ChaneyKate Chaney (Curtin, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

A few weeks ago, I met with Marian Hillam and Jan Ali Haidari. Marian is 80 years old and is a member of Grandmothers for Refugees. She's also active in the Uniting Church of Nedlands's group that supports refugees and asylum seekers. Jan is a Hazari Afghani refugee, who has been staying with Marian for the past six years.

Jan arrived in Australia by boat at the end of 2011. He has been recognised by the United Nations as a genuine refugee. Jan was initially granted a temporary protection visa in early 2017 and subsequently applied for a safe haven enterprise visa in 2020. Jan works hard as a tiler in Perth—he often works seven days a week—and pays all his required taxes. When he's not working, he studies English and volunteers with refugee support groups.

Jan has a wife, Sadiqa, and four children, about the same age as my children, in Hazara Town in Quetta, Pakistan. He has seen them only online in the 11 years it has taken for them to grow from toddlers to teenagers. They, too, are acknowledged as refugees, and there's an offer of sponsorship from the Nedlands Uniting Church. Jan is extremely distressed that he has been apart from his family for over 11 years. He has been living in an endless cycle of uncertainty, with no way to plan for the future.

Jan is one of 20,000 refugees on TPVs and SHEVs who were excited about the change of government, but are still waiting for a path to permanency. National advocates have told me that every day they are being contacted by people on TPVs and SHEVs who are getting increasingly desperate. In the words of Behrouz Boochani, who spoke to a number of parliamentarians here this morning: hope is not enough; we need action.

I told Jan and Marian that I would use my voice in the parliament to advocate for refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. We need to provide a clear path to permanency for temporary visa holders, end offshore detention, end mandatory indefinite detention and increase Australia's humanitarian case load.

In the meantime, I'm grateful to people in my electorate like Marian and the Grandmothers for Refugees who advocate and provide care for Jan and the many other refugees in Australia who are living in limbo. As a country, we can and must do better than this. We must show that we will be compassionate, give people a fair go and embrace the international responsibilities that come with our extreme good fortune here in Australia.