Refugee Week 2020 Media Release

Refugee Week

Refugee and Immigration Legal Service's clients continue to deal with devastating consequences from the fallout of COVID19 restrictions and marginalisation. 

RAILS has operated in Queensland for 40 years working with those asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who are most disempowered within our migration system. COVID19 has highlighted and exacerbated the precarious financial circumstances of many of our clients. 

Mr Craig Foster, RAILS Supporter, highlights: 'it's the responsibility of every Australian to understand how our country treats its people, and those under our care. If we are going to talk about our cultural foundations of fairness, we need to make sure that it is real. If we are locking up innocent asylum seekers for seven years and stealing their lives, this undermines who we believe we are, and certainly who and what I believe we should be. It's not enough to look away and pretend it's not happening. Each of us has a social conscience. And ours can only be whole when we release people from indefinite detention, stop the suffering and let them get on with their lives. We would demand the same for ourselves. Anything else makes us hypocrites. And that's one thing Aussies hate to be'. 

Kylie McGrath, RAILS Principal Solicitor, further explains: 'our clients have struggled against inflexible legal systems. Despite everything that has been happening around us all, our clients still face decision makers who have required that they have signatures on documents witnessed (even though this is not required by the law itself) and who have asked for more time to provide complex evidence and have been told that they cannot have further time'. 'We have been approached by asylum seekers whose court hearing dates were postponed and postponed again until a court date by telephone which was missed by the asylum seeker, leading to their whole case being dismissed' says Ms McGrath.

It is important to understand that most people seeking asylum in Australia arrive by air and not by boat. More than 75% of asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat have been found to be refugees. Seeking asylum is not illegal. Everyone has the right to seek asylum if their life or freedom is threatened. Refugees are ordinary people like anybody else, who have survived and escaped persecution and violence. Refugees are survivors. They have survived because of their courage, ingenuity and creativity. These are qualities which we value in Australia. 


Paul Tavatgis - RAILS President on (07) 3846 9300

Malathi Kanagasabapathy - Executive Director on (07) 3846 9300 or