Perpetual Insecurity 7c - Temporary Protection and the Extending Effects of Suffering


Temporary Protection and the Extending Effects of Suffering

A boat approaches the coast of Christmas Island.

[imagecaption] ‘K’, ‘Christmas Island Boat Tragedy’,  Refugee Art Project, Exile Series. [/imagecaption]

‘It is not easy to tell someone what I am feeling because it is so painful…My son, if I see him in five years, will be a man – that is if he survives. If I go back the Taliban will kill me, and then my wife and children would surely die…’

Hadi, father of three


Among the most destructive effects of Temporary Protection Visas is that they deny access to family reunion programs. This means that if a father has made a boat journey to Australia hoping to subsequently be able to safely reunite with his wife and children, he is unable to do so. If families do not want to endure prolonged separation, the only option is for all members of the family to undertake the boat journey, a perilous exercise. This reality was borne out in the case of  SIEV X in 2001, where most of the 353 people who drowned were women and children who had family members living in Australia on TPVs. Now that asylum seeker boats are being turned back, women and children are forced to remain in vulnerable circumstances in their countries of origin, where their safety may be at risk, or in transit countries where their rights and freedoms are not protected. Meanwhile men who are separated from their families experience hopelessness, guilt and shame at not being able to reunite with those they seek to protect.

Even for people with permanent protection visas it is effectively impossible to reunite with their families as a result of Direction 80, which places applications by refugees who arrived by boat at lowest priority. In June 2019, an Afghan refugee and father of six named Naqeebullah died after living in Australia for 18 years. He had made multiple applications to bring his wife and children to Australia. Following his death, one of his sons stated ‘My father’s last wish was to take us to Australia.’ 


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