Refugee week activities relating to the theme of ‘Restoring Hope’ raised awareness around issues affecting refugees. In 2013, there were with 51.2 million people displaced worldwide, six million more than in 2012. Over the same period, applications for asylum in Australia dropped by over 50%.
The High Court found that the Minister for Immigration does not have power to limit the number of resettlement visas issued within a specific financial year. In response, the government will seek to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visas, a move that relies on the support of Labor and the Greens in order to be passed in the Senate.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and the Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared that it has been six months since the last irregular maritime arrival. The announcement follows a High Court decision upholding the right of the government to designate another nation to operate as a regional processing country.
The Labor party debated and ultimately rejected a motion to reverse its support for the offshore processing of asylum seekers.
Following a series of revelations relating to the conditions of child detainees, UNICEF called for an independent body to monitor and report on the treatment of children held in Australian immigration detention.
The average time spent by asylum seekers in detention hit a record high in April 2014. Meanwhile, the ABC reported that the government is offering up to $10,000 as an inducement for asylum seekers to leave offshore processing centres and return to their home nations. The government further refused to provide assurances to Iraqi asylum seekers that they will not be returned to Iraq, despite the ongoing instability in the region.
A second Tamil asylum seeker attempted to self-immolate and was saved by housemates in Melbourne’s east. The man, who arrived in Christmas Island in December 2012, is on a bridging visa awaiting a decision as to his refugee application. The attempt follows the death of asylum seeker Leo Seemanpillai by self-immolation on 31 May.
On Nauru, three pregnant asylum seekers were transferred to Australia requesting abortions due to the harsh conditions inside the detention centre.