National Network urges government not to bow to political pressure and implement a fair and compassionate visa cancellation review processes

The National Network condemns the Australian Government’s response to political pressure over visa cancellations. Direction 99, requiring decision-makers, including the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), to consider the ‘strength, duration and nature’ of a person’s ties to Australia, was a step forward. However, given the recent publicity it looks like the government will be weakening this critical criterion.

Direction 99, introduced by Minister Giles in January last year following lobbying from the New Zealand government, aims to address the deportation of New Zealand nationals and other who have spent the majority of their lives in Australia. It emphasizes the importance of considering the length of time individuals have been in the country and their connections to the community. Additionally, other significant factors include the protection of the Australian community, whether the criminal conduct constituted family violence, the best interests of children, and community expectations.

‘While we respect the independent process of the AAT, we condemn the government’s inclination to succumb to political pressure,’ said Debbie Kilroy. ‘It is imperative that the decision-making process includes a comprehensive assessment of a person’s family ties and community connections. The proposal to dilute the consideration of the length of time spent in Australia and familial ties, such as adult children and parents, is deeply troubling,’ said Debbie Kilroy.

‘The National Network is acutely aware of cases where women have been criminalized by the very system meant to protect them,’ said Tabitha Lean. ‘These women are now being unfairly targeted and publicised by political actors seeking to appear tough on crime. Many of these individuals have resided in Australia for extensive periods, often with Australian citizen children, and face permanent exile without any possibility of return, even in dire circumstances such as the illness of a child. This is patently unjust,’ said Tabitha Lean.

‘Moreover, many of these women have endured domestic violence, frequently perpetrated by Australian citizens,’ said Tabitha Lean. ‘The media’s portrayal of these individuals often lacks nuance and context, ignoring the profound impact on the children and families left behind in Australia,’ said Tabitha Lean.

At a time when national conversations on domestic violence are crucial, it is essential to recognize and address the targeting of women in visa cancellation processes. The current approach fails to consider the broader implications on families, mental health, and the well-being of children.

‘We urge the government to adopt a compassionate and fair stance in visa cancellation reviews,’ said Debbie Kilroy. ‘The focus should be on the holistic impact on families and communities rather than yielding to external political pressures. The lives and well-being of many individuals, particularly vulnerable women and children, depend on just and humane policies,’ said Debbie Kilroy.

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For further comment, please contact either National Network members, Debbie Kilroy or Tabitha Lean