NZ refugee resettlement deal welcome but long overdue

24th Mar 2022

The agreement between Australia and New Zealand to resettle refugees and asylum seekers is welcome but the physical and mental harm done by the Australian government to those who can now start new lives is unconscionable, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“The ALA has advocated for many years for Australia to accept the New Zealand offer so this announcement is welcome, but it is long overdue,” said Mr Greg Barns, SC, national spokesperson, ALA.

“The government’s refusal to accept this offer almost a decade ago has resulted in enormous physical and mental harm to thousands of refugees and asylum seekers stuck in Australia’s cruel detention regime.

“In this time, the Commonwealth has paid out more than $150 million to settle compensation claims for physical and mental harm, including the $70 million awarded to nearly 2000 refugees as part of the Manus Island class action.

“The dangerous and damaging treatment that refugees and asylum seekers in Australia have received since the New Zealand arrangement was first proposed has resulted in tragic and sustained harm to many people. The refugees and asylum seekers who will now be transported to New Zealand are not precluded from claiming compensation for mental and physical harm in the future.

“As the UNHCR has said today there are still over 100 detainees on Nauru and 1100 in the Australian community.  Nauru should be closed immediately and those individuals should be allowed to settle in Australia.”


Tags: Compensation Asylum seekers and refugees Detention