Refugee Legal is Australia’s largest not-for-profit provider of free legal services in its specialist field of immigration and refugee law.

  • Total client assistance:
  • Telephone advice:
  • Face-to-face advice:
  • People represented:
  • Training & information sessions:
  • 12,387
  • 7,458
  • 3,364
  • 1,565
  • 128
  • Iran
  • Sri Lanka
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Burma
  • Ethiopia
  • Iraq
  • India
  • Somalia
  • Sudan

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.