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United call for all asylum seekers, regardless of mode or date of arrival, who are released into the community on a bridging visa to be granted the right to work.

Currently some asylum seekers living in the Australian community have the right to work. Recent policy changes now deny this right to others based on their time and mode of arrival in Australia.

As a fundamental human right, asylum seekers should have the right to work.

In November 2012, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced new policy changes affecting asylum seekers arriving by boat.  These changes place asylum seekers on bridging visas with no right to work and imposing waiting periods of up to five years for processing.

History has proven that having asylum seekers live on welfare without any training or skill development for five years deliberately hinders their potential to be able to gain employment when they do achieve permanent residency – and for boat arrivals 90.8% do become permanent residents in Australia. The contribution of asylum seekers to our community, economy and the Australian way of life is invaluable. As identified by the UN HIgh Commissioner for Refugees “not only will the need for assistance be diminished if the asylum-seeker is permitted to engage in employment, but dignity and self-respect are enhanced.”

It is estimated that in 2013, 10,000 asylum seekers will be released nationally into the community without work rights.  There is no guarantee of the level of support provided to these people.  This will put strain on an already under resourced sector and will impact the mental health and self-agency of thousands of asylum seekers.

As a group of concerned not for profit organisations, individuals, businesses and community groups we are seeking to address the lack of right to work for asylum seekers. This includes those who have arrived post August 13, 2012 and are subject to the new policy and those who arrived prior to August 13, 2012 who have not been granted work rights.

As a group, the signatories to this statement call for:

  • An undertaking from the Minister for Immigration to make a policy change extending the right to work to all asylum seekers released into the community on bridging visas, regardless of mode or date of arrival or stage in the refugee determination process.
  • The right to work is accompanied by the provision of basic employment support services to increase the asylum seekers chance of employment.


The more names we can add to this statement the more powerful it will be when we present it to the Prime Minister and Minister for Immigration in the coming weeks. Please encourage your organisation to add their name to the statement. If you are a member of an organisation that has already signed, please show your individual support by encouraging friends and others to take action on this important issue by adding their names as well. Please promote this campaign and your support to ensure the right to work for asylum seekers.

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