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Limited changes to asylum seeker assistance scheme

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Media Release Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Budget 99 MPS 75/99


The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today announced the Asylum Seeker Assistance (ASA) Scheme would be extended to provide help to a limited number of people in urgent need of assistance during review of their failed Protection Visa applications.

The ASA provides financial assistance to people who are unable to meet their most basic needs for food, accommodation and health care while their applications for Protection Visas are being assessed by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

This Scheme is funded by the Government and administered by the Australian Red Cross.

“It has become clear that there is a need to provide assistance for basic essentials to certain vulnerable people living in the community during the period their failed applications are under review by a merits review tribunal,” Mr Ruddock said.

“Extending the ASA scheme in this way will ensure that people in dire need, many of whom are women and children, will be properly assisted during this time.

“However, I must emphasise that the scheme will not be extended to all people who are undergoing the merits tribunal review process.”

Mr Ruddock said assistance would continue to be unavailable to failed asylum seekers who are taking court action to challenge Tribunal decisions.

“Sadly, evidence still points to high levels of misuse of the protection visa process by people who are not genuine refugees. Significant numbers of people who have no lawful right to remain in the country continue to pursue every legal means available to stay.

“If people continue to refuse to accept the decisions of my Department and the independent merits review tribunals it is entirely appropriate that they are responsible for their own support.

“These changes will ensure that the integrity of Australia’s refugee determination process is maintained”.

ENDS Tuesday, 11 May 1999

Media Inquiries: Brad Robinson (02) 6277 7860 or 0419 278 715