Giving asylum seekers already living in the community work rights, while they wait at least three years for their refugee applications to be processed, must be a priority for the Immigration Minister, the Australia Greens have said today.
"Asylum seekers living in the community should have the right to work and study, allowing them to provide for themselves and contribute to the economy,’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
"Putting these people to work or study rather than leaving them to sit around for three years with nothing to do is a no-brainer.
"I will move in the Senate next month to grant thousands of asylum seekers work and study rights, I urge the Government to support the move.
"Work rights are currently not allowed for asylum seekers unless the Minister gives his personal approval. This is simply unworkable and cumbersome, leaving thousands of people who want to work without the opportunity to go and get a job.
"Despite promising the Senate and Coalition backbenchers last year that asylum seekers on bridging visas would be given work rights, very few people have been granted access to the workforce. This is just another broken promise from this Government.
"The Minister has said today that it will take ‘at least three years' before 24,000 asylum seekers living in the community will have their refugee claims processed. Three years is a long time to be living in limbo with no work or study rights.
"Today's admission of an increase in processing times for refugee applications is an obvious attempt by the Minister to soften the ground for a blow out in his department’s budget, come May.
"If the Minster is worried about the budget cost of his department he should let the 25,000 people on bridging visas work, allowing them to pay their own way and start paying taxes.
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