Freedom from indefinite detention for 69 more people, but nearly a hundred still detained

The Time for a Home alliance of 140 organisations and community networks, welcomes the release of 25 Medevac refugees yesterday and 25 today from the Kangaroo Point Hotel Alternative Place of Detention (APOD) and Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA).

We can also confirm a family of four people will be transferred to Brisbane today from the Darwin Mercure Hotel APOD, where women and families still remain detained, and then released into the community Brisbane. While 15 recent medical transfers from Nauru are being released from Villawood in Sydney, today.

Last week the Time for a Home alliance handed over a petition with 36,923 signatures to 18 MPs from across Parliament calling on the Government to release all people transferred from Offshore Processing from detention and resettle them in a safe, permanent home by World Refugee Day, 20 June 2021.

This week the Time For A Home Alliance is running a week of action with community events organised across Australia.

Sustained community pressure has now seen a total of 115 refugees released in five rounds from Melbourne and Brisbane detention centres since 20 January.

The Minister for Home Affairs has provided no reason as to why close to 100 people are still detained while others are being released in small groups, with no notice to service organisations or people detained, no prior information or statements from the Government on what is happening.

Nor is there a resettlement solution for a permanent home for refugees, just more people on six month bridging visas without safety nets, forced to rely on charity to survive in the community.

Thanush Selvarasa, human rights activist and recently released refugee said: “There are 25 more people released today in Brisbane, congratulations to all of them. I am so happy and full of relief that more of my brothers in detention in Brisbane have freedom.

They came here like me for medical help and their freedom is the best treatment for them to get better. All of the men and women must be released and we all need to have a home, not six month bridging visas to live life on.”

Jana Favero, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns said: “These arbitrary, secretive and selective releases exacerbate deteriorating mental health of people in detention who are left with distressing uncertainty after 8 years of indefinite detention on and offshore. The Morrison Government must release all refugees who were transferred for medical treatment urgently, and find them a permanent home, so they can recover their health and start life again.”

Dr Graham Thom, Refugee Adviser at Amnesty International Australia, said: “While the release of more detainees from this cruel and arbitrary detention is obviously welcome, the Government must explain to the people of Australia why others still remain trapped both onshore and offshore. The suffering that many have now endured for eight years could be over in an instant if Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, let them settle permanently in Australia or accepted the New Zealand offer that has been on the table since 2013.”

Sarah Dale, Centre Director and Principal Solicitor at the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) said: “The RACS team has spoken to people who are overwhelmed with emotion that they have been released, after years of detention and desperate conditions. Simultaneously there are many feeling overwhelmed as they remain held in detention, with no knowing what will happen to them or if they will ever get some sense of freedom.

We are seeing yet another unnecessarily arbitrary and sporadic process that continues to drastically impact people’s lives. The Government must release all refugees urgently.”

Marie Sellstrom, Committee Member at Rural Australians for Refugees said: “Rural Australians for Refugees are so delighted to see justice and freedom at long last for the men and women being released from indefinite detention. Many people seeking asylum and refugees are part of rural communities and we call on the Morrison Government to urgently release everyone, and take up New Zealand’s offer to resettle people or give them a permanent home in Australia.”

David Burke, Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre said: “It is an incredible to watch men and women who have been arbitrarily detained finally walk to freedom. But these releases just show how unnecessary their detention was in the first place. More than 100 people remain in detention here and more than 200 offshore. Minister Dutton needs to immediately give these women and men a permanent home.

“These releases are only the first step. Giving people 6 month visas without any support isn’t a solution. Every child, woman and man who has suffered from this policy needs the stability of a permanent visa so they can rebuild their lives.”