Refugee Legal is Australia’s largest not-for-profit provider of free legal services in its specialist field of immigration and refugee law.
- This year (2015-2016), Refugee Legal’s client assistance totalled over 12,300. This represents a significant increase of around 46% over the number of client transactions recorded in the 2014-2015 period.
- Fast facts for this year are:
- Our clients in 2016 came from 114 countries across the globe. The top 10 countries of origin were:
- The top matters on which clients seek advice and assistance are Protection Visa applications and family related migration matters.
- The impact of Refugee Legal’s strategic work is a 100% success rate in ‘test case’ litigation. Nine cases won in the High Court of Australia have had flow-on benefits for many thousands of asylum seekers and refugees.
- Our over 500 volunteers has provided vital capacity to scale-up legal and other services, like TPV Clinics.
- Refugee Legal’s submissions were cited regularly in a number of Senate Inquiries on migration legislation.
- Delivered a national training program to non-legal professionals working with people seeking asylum to enhance interagency knowledge, collaboration and holistic approaches across the refugee sector.
- We launched Refugee Legal: Digest – a new monthly subscription service providing essential updates in immigration and refugee case law for practitioners and academics.
- Participated and presented at key national and international events, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Dialogue on Protection Challenges in Geneva.
- Executive Director and Principal Solicitor, David Manne, is recognized as an authoritative voice in the local, national and international dialogue around issues of forced migration and human rights of refugees. He is regularly sought out by the media – nationally and internationally – as a respected commentator.
- David Manne has been named on multiple occasions in the Australian edition of Best Lawyers among Australia’s ‘Leading Immigration Lawyers’, an honour conferred by his peers. He is also the recipient of numerous prestigious legal and human rights awards, and was appointed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Advisory Board of Eminent Persons.
The real stories behind the numbers
In 2009, Fatema*, then aged 13, applied with her siblings, her mother and stepmother, for visas to join her father in Australia. They are Hazara Shias who had been forced to flee from Afghanistan to Pakistan to avoid persecution by the Taliban. Fatema’s father had originally arrived in Australia by boat and had been granted a permanent protection visa. There were long delays in processing the family’s visa applications and, after two years, Refugee Legal was asked by the migration agent who had been representing the family to take over the case as it had become too complicated. Eventually all the family, bar Fatema and her mother, were granted visas to Australia. The Department did not believe that Fatema was her father’s child. DNA testing proved that Fatema was her father’s child but, by this time, Ministerial policy required that visa applications proposed by people who had originally arrived by boat be treated as lowest priority no matter how compelling the cases.
We assisted Fatema’s father to apply for Australian citizenship, which was granted. This meant that processing of his daughter’s application recommenced. Unfortunately, Fatema’s mother was then diagnosed with a life threatening illness, which meant that she no longer satisfied the health requirements for the visa. We prepared further information and submissions in support of both Fatema and her mother, given the fact that they had been living in a situation of extreme danger as two females on their own, without male protection, for many years and that this danger would only increase as Fatema reached her late teens.
Both Fatema and her mother were granted visas and were finally able to reunite with their family in Australia late last year.
*Names have been changed.