Dear friends and supporters of TRLS,
As we approach the end of 2022, it would be remiss to ignore the increasing conflicts and humanitarian crises occurring across the world. Throughout the year we have witnessed a continued proliferation of humanitarian crises in countries such as Ukraine, Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ethiopia to name a few. As we reflect upon the year that has been, we are reminded that these crises have no borders, their impact reverberating locally and seriously affecting the growing Tasmanian refugee and asylum seeker community.
The Tasmanian Refugee Legal Service (TRLS) provides expert crucial free legal advice, casework and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and humanitarian entrants who are residing in Tasmania. Our clients are seeking a safe place where they can rebuild their lives and, due to their circumstances, are otherwise unable to access appropriate or free legal advice, assistance and support.
TRLS is the only dedicated refugee, asylum seeker and humanitarian entrant legal service in Tasmania. We are a small group of Tasmanian lawyers who are upholding the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Tasmania every day. As a service, we practice international human rights law on a daily basis, assisting people who have fled persecution, war and violence to find a safe place to rebuild their lives.
Legal support is the primary need for many asylum seekers and refugees in our community, without legal support many people will either never be able to reach Australia and reunify with their loved ones, or will not be able to stay in safety in Australia.
Our work at TRLS covers onshore asylum claims for Tasmanian residents applying for protection from their country of origin, offshore protection visa applications to reunite Tasmanian families who have been separated by war and conflict such as the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, and legal advice and casework for victims/survivors of family violence who are on temporary visas, where their migration status is impacted by the family violence or by the breakdown of their relationship. We also assist asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat as they navigate the visa application and appeals process, their pathways to permanent residency and where unsuccessful we provide representation all the way through to Ministerial Intervention requests.
We are Not-for-profit with DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) status and donations made to TRLS are Tax Deductible. Please consider donating to our Tasmanian Refugee Legal Service End of Year Appeal.
Did you know that:
- People who are applying for asylum in Australia have a 6 to 7 times greater chance of being accepted as a refugee if they have a lawyer representing them.
- 100% of Tasmanian asylum seekers who applied for protection and were represented by TRLS lawyers in 2022 were granted asylum.
- TRLS has given legal advice and support to 1067 people this year, which includes all the dependents on visa applications.
- TRLS currently has over 400 active cases it is working on.
- TRLS has represented over 70 victims of family violence in cases where the violence has affected their immigration status through the Family Violence Migration Service (FVMS).
In the past 12 months we have seen a 400% increase in the demand for our services for asylum seekers and refugees and their families in the Tasmanian community due to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the war in Ukraine, escalating conflict in Ethiopia and the prevalence of family violence within our own community.
Donors are an essential part of what we do at the Tasmanian Refugee Legal Service. Your donation will go directly to paying for legal support for our clients and will enable the service to take on more casework. All donations to our service go directly towards refugees and asylum seekers within the Tasmanian community and their families. Furthermore, as a not-for-profit with DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) status, donations made to TRLS are Tax Deductible.
Your donation will go towards:
- Interpreter fees. TRLS interpretation fees this year cost the service approximately $30,000, which the service had to pay to the Department of Home Affairs. TRLS receive no funding for interpreting or translation fees and no support from the Commonwealth Government, without public donations we would not have been able to provide free interpreters to our clients, which is a fundamental aspect of the work we do and a basic human right.
- Direct legal advice and casework provision.
- Volunteer expenses. We currently have around 20 volunteers who provide much needed support to our staff and clients.
Expenses for outreach legal visits and legal education sessions to clients throughout Tasmania including to women’s shelters in remote areas of the State.
Below are just three, amongst many of the stories of our client’s lives, that the Tasmanian Refugee Legal Service has been able to change the course of in 2022:
Stella came to Australia as a 16-year-old child in 2017. Sella had same-sex attractions in her country of origin, however same sex relations were outlawed in her country of origin. Stella has been able to explore her sexual orientation due to the freedom of Australian laws in line with her own personal development and age. Stella’s sexual orientation is not a choice, it is innate and part of her identity. TRLS presented her case to the Department of Home Affairs. TRLS submitted that Stella had a well-founded fear of persecution on grounds related to her membership of a particular social group and would be persecuted in her home country because of her sexual identity as same-sex attracted. Stella would have faced 20 years in jail if forced to return to her home country.
After a 4-hour hearing, the Department granted Stella permanent protection. This was a significant result for Stella. Stella is now a permanent resident and has been granted permanent protection thanks to the legal work of TRLS.
Daniel escaped from Afghanistan in 2013. Daniel is a member of the Hazara ethnic group, a minority group who have been persecuted by the Taliban over many years.
When he arrived in Tasmania, he started studying English at TasTAFE and commenced studying fora Diploma of Business Leadership and Management at TasTAFE and was then offered a scholarship in 2017 to study at the University of Tasmania where he completed a degree in politics and law. He has also since completed a Diploma in Business Leadership and Management in Tasmania and has run his own business for several years employing many Tasmanians.
He has studied full time, worked full time, studied English and achieved his English language test requirements, and has excelled in his job and life.
TRLS have been working on Daniel’s case to try and obtain him permanent residency through the SHEV pathway program as this is his only avenue to permanent residency. TRLS submitted 77 separate documents to the Department of Home Affairs as evidence in his case.
After close to 10 years of living in limbo, TRLS received notice that Daniel has been granted permanent residency through the SHEV pathway program to transfer over to a permanent skilled visa and we believe Daniel is the first person in Australia to ever transfer over from a SHEV visa to a permanent skilled visa.
As part of this process, we were also able to obtain permanent residency for his wife to come to Australia as well, who has been in Malaysia for the past 5 years separated from Daniel.
Ruth came to Australia on a student visa and met Michael through university. Ruth and Michael married in early 2019 and Ruth fell pregnant shortly after. Ruth applied for a partner visa in late 2019 and gave birth to her son not long after lodging the application. Michael insisted on lodging the visa application for Ruth and refused to provide her with any information or access to the application.
Over the next 1.5 years, Michael perpetrated family violence against Ruth which escalated in severity until police eventually intervened in mid-2021. Ruth and her son sought assistance from a friend, where they remained living for the next 6 months.
Ruth had not yet been granted her partner visa when the relationship broke down and faced deportation. Ruth did not have access to her visa application and was not aware of her legal rights to continue with the visa application despite the relationship breakdown. Michael used the threat of deportation against Ruth in their family law negotiations and Ruth was resigned to consenting to orders that were unjust due to this threat. Ruth then sought advice from TRLS.
Our family violence migration lawyer advised Ruth of her right to be granted her permanent partner visa because she had a child with the sponsor of the application. TRLS presented Ruth’s case to the Department of Home Affairs and her permanent partner visa was granted within 2 months of her seeking advice. After years of uncertainty and fear of deportation, Ruth’s ability to remain in Australia was secure and could no longer be used as a weapon against her.
*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the client.
As evident in the stories above, your support enables us to change the course of many people and the lives of their families, giving them the chance to build a better life in safety and with dignity.
The service has been able to navigate the way to permanent residency for many of our clients 2022 and, with your support, we can do so much more.
For many people, a permanent visa will mean an end to the cycle of uncertainty and suffering and provide people with a life where they can live with certainty, dignity and safety and with a sense of a new ‘home’.
Together we can continue to provide crucial free legal advice for people seeking asylum, refugees, and vulnerable migrants in the Tasmanian community.
We thank you for your ongoing support. As a service, we are forever grateful – as are our clients.
On behalf of our team of staff and volunteers at Tasmanian Refugee Legal Service (TRLS).