A dying man denied palliative care in Australia and families ‘onshore’ left bereft with no support while developing the skills and local certification required for employment.
The Australian Border force says a Nauru detainee can die in Taiwan or Afghanistan
The man who is dying due to advanced lung cancer does not want to go to Taiwan because he does not know anybody there, is concerned there would be no translator from his language, Hazaraghi, nor to perform the Shia Muslim rituals and ceremonies on his body when he dies. The ABF’s other option has been to offer the legitimate refugee $25,000 to return home to Afghanistan where as a member of the Hazara community he will be persecuted. [Under the Refugee Convention, this means he cannot be forcibly returned there and Australia is legally obliged to protect him.] The man has no alternative, then but to stay on Nauru, where doctors have described the situation there as “totally inadequate” for a person requiring advanced palliative care.
SUPPORT CUTS: not just inhuman but financially short-sighted
As noted in March, the coalition government decided to end to Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) for several thousand asylum seekers on bridging visas living in the community. Then in May, the government decreed that: “a group of about 190 refugees from among the hundreds transferred here for medical care from Manus Island and Nauru have been suddenly moved onto a six-month bridging visa, stripped of income support and evicted from community detention housing. They must support themselves, or go back, the department said.” The effect of both decisions are have the expected disastrous results …
As reported by the Guardian today:
Sarvenaz and her family were on rolling bridging visas of various lengths for more than four years. They struggled to find work, but she and her sister volunteered with the Red Cross and Salvation Army, and enrolled at university. Her scholarship requires full-time attendance but she cannot access Austudy. After the SRSS announcement she was unable to get a job until the university found one for her on campus.”How do people expect someone to arrive to this country – who doesn’t have access to the services, who is stressing from the trauma they have been through and is an applicant who hasn’t been processed, and doesn’t have skills to work with and whose education history isn’t accepted – [to] find work?” Sarvenaz says.
Some of the Manus and Nauru transferees (sometimes known as the ‘Let Them Stay’ group) have some capacity to work and have long wanted the right to do so but not been granted it. However, many others brought to Australia for acute medical or mental health problems, including elderly people, have also been told to support themselves. Melbourne’s Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub reports a significant increase in people “walking into our service in a heightened state of distress, at times thinking that suicide is a way out of the situation.” Dr Tram Nguyen estimates there are about 5,000 people in Melbourne alone on SRSS, plus a large portion of the Let Them Stay group. So his staff are bracing for thousands of new patients. But already the waiting list for specialist mental health services has increased from weeks to months and other basic living concerns –”like a lack of food security, families who could be homeless and destitute” – are going to add even more to the burden of those affected.
The government has clearly ignored the SRSS success stories – like Hamad whose 11 years as a chef in Iran with his own restaurant meant nothing when he arrived in Australia with no English, no references and no recognised qualifications. But three weeks ago, after six years rolling from one short-term bridging visa to another, Hamad was granted a five-year visa. He now works in two jobs, one running cooking classes at Hamad’s Persian Kitchen in Northcote, the other as an operations coordinator at the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre kitchen. Both jobs came through volunteering that he was able to do while on the SRSS – because no one would hire him. “It wasn’t possible without the SRSS payment,” he says. “It wasn’t much but it can pay your bills and rent and buy a little food for your family.”
If you believe that the Australian government must
bring a dying man to Australia where he can receive vital palliative care to make his final months less than excruciating
restore the basic level of support to people seeking asylum to allow them to become contributing members of the Australian community