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Govt should stay course with community release of asylum seekers

Despite concerns from some quarters, the Gillard government is right to be moving more asylum seekers into the community when they have been assessed as safe to do so, the Australian Greens said today.

"It is cheaper and is decent of the federal government to be moving more fragile people into the community, rather than having them languishing indefinitely in detention centres," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.

"Why should taxpayers continue funding a problematic detention centre network when they also pay millions of dollars in compensation for people whose mental health has been broken because they were in detention?

"Australia should not be maintaining its cruel policy of indefinite mandatory detention when cheaper alternatives are available.

"People such as Hazaras from Afghanistan will continue taking the perilous journey to Australia by leaky boat while they risk death in their home country and cannot be given protection in Indonesia or Malaysia. Hazaras say unless Australia is worse than the Taliban, they will not stop running until they feel safe.

"Australia needs to get serious about a genuine regional protection framework with the emphasis on protecting asylum seekers. It must boost funds to the UNHCR in southeast Asia and take more people directly from Indonesia and Malaysia. If Australia cuts out the service people smugglers are providing, it lessens the chance asylum seekers will risk boarding boats.

"The Greens agree with legal and mental health experts from across the country that after 30 days and health and security checks have been done, people who are assessed as safe to release should be moved into the community while their claims for protection are done.

"Assessment in the community has always been the case for asylum seekers who arrive by plane. Their numbers are greater than those who come by boat."

 

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