I’m pleased to report that last week after a long fought case, The Federal Court ruled against the Minister for Immigration on the question of citizenship for people of refugee background.
The Court found the Minister had ‘unreasonably delayed’ making decisions on citizenship applications, depriving eligible former refugees from having their full rights as Australian citizens.
The case, brought by the Refugee Council of Australia with pro bono legal support, provides renewed hope for 10,231 people that the department confirmed were in the same situation. This large group, although eligible for citizenship, have had their applications ‘put in the bottom drawer’, as the Department dragged its feet in completing this simple but important task.
Lawyers for the former refugees argued that these delays have been unreasonable and appear discriminatory.
The Court heard that the excessive delays have caused significant anxiety for the many thousands affected, as they have been unable to reunite with their families while their citizenship remains in limbo.
Tim O’Connor, acting CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia, said “this decision is a landmark ruling, providing hope for over 10,000 people around Australia who have been denied justice by the Immigration Department. Our government has denied them basic rights to stability and importantly, family reunion, through slow and targeted decision-making. Today’s ruling recognises this injustice and represents a first step towards a resolution for thousands and a chance for them to start to rebuild their lives.”
The Refugee Council of Australia do terrific work in promoting the development of humane, lawful and constructive policies towards refugees and asylum seekers. Find out how you can support its work and get involved here.