In March 2014, the Commonwealth government ceased funding legal assistance for people arriving in Australia via boat and without a valid visa. In order to mitigate the effects of this decision, RAILS commenced the Unrepresented Asylum Seeker Project. This project aims to meet the demand for basic legal support for over 5000 asylum seekers in the Queensland community who are not provided with government funded legal assistance.
Since March 2014, community donations and RAILS’ own reserves have been used to fund a program of assistance for those asylum seekers unable to afford commercial representation. When the Minister began inviting visa applications in May 2015 this assistance was required more intensively. Until now, our assistance has focused on statement-taking for protection visa applications.
In June 2017, RAILS announced a significant expansion of the project in light of the needs of asylum seekers throughout the remainder of the determination process. In the coming period RAILS will:
- assist to lodge the remaining visa applications prior to 1 October 2017
- continue to assist and mentor volunteer community organisations who provide administrative and welfare support
- advise visa applicants at various stages through visa processing: pre and post interview, post the DIBP decision, post the IAA decision and in Judicial Review
- advise applicants about the outcome of the process
- co-ordinate other legal service providers.
We are very aware that the entire process will, for many asylum seekers, be extended well beyond the current year.
Donations to the Project
Our aim now is to secure sufficient community and private funding to ensure the project can provide services to asylum seekers through the 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial years. As well as using our own reserves, RAILS has received very generous donations from community members (individually and through Asylum Circle and BRASS), from Presentation Sisters, and a significant contribution from the Queensland Justice and Attorney-General’s Department.
We now need donations in order to ensure we have full capacity to deliver the work not only for all of the current financial year but throughout 2018-19.
RAILS is a registered charity and donations are tax deductible. RAILS will provide a written receipt of your donation. Donations to the project can be done by direct bank deposit (noting ‘the project’ in the description line) to:
Account name: Refugee and Immigration Legal Service
Account number: 119205409
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your address details if you require a receipt.
Support from law firms and migration agents
In seeking to build capacity in the UAS Project, RAILS is seeking volunteer lawyers and migration agents. All solicitors and migration agents who volunteer will be trained and their involvement will be tailored to ensure compliance with the Migration Act. To receive an information sheet or express your interest, please send an email to the project Coordinator, at UAS@rails.org.au.