Asylum seekers and refugees

  • Medevac laws must not be repealed, says ALA

    26th Oct 2019

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) calls upon the Australian government to reject the repeal of Australia’s medevac laws.

  • Proposed changes to medevac laws must be rejected, say lawyers

    26th Aug 2019

    Proposed amendments to the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 should be rejected, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

  • Huge impact of asylum seeker work recognised with ALA’s VIC justice award

    3rd May 2019

    The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) have jointly won the Australian Lawyers Alliance’s (ALA) 2019 Victorian Civil Justice Award for their work to ensure that asylum seekers receive appropriate medical care.

  • The re-opening of Christmas Island: Two steps back

    28th Mar 2019

    Following the Senate's passing of the Medevac Bill – which will provide clinical pathways for detainees requiring medical care and ensure that authorities are compelled to determine whether a patient may be transferred to Australia for treatment within 72 hours – the Australian government has announced its intention to re-open the detention centre on Christmas Island. 

    Kathryn Schmidt discusses the human rights implications of these political actions.

  • Immigration lawyers acting for asylum seekers are ‘unAustralian’

    20th Dec 2018

    A reflective essay that responds to this assertion.

  • Current legal struggles for people seeking asylum in Australia

    25th Oct 2018

    Dr Carolyn Graydon, Principal Solicitor and Manager of the Human Rights Law Program, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre presented this paper at the ALA National Conference on 19 October.

  • Refugee Protection Bill is far better policy than current inhumane treatment of asylum seekers

    18th Jun 2018

    The Refugee Protection Bill introduced into Parliament today by Andrew Wilkie MP would ensure a far safer and more humane response to people seeking asylum, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

     

  • Death on Nauru prompts calls from lawyers for urgent government action

    15th Jun 2018

    ‘Cruel, inhumane and unsafe environment’: death on Nauru prompts calls from lawyers for urgent government action.

  • Visa cancellation review could lead to ministerial abuses of power

    15th Mar 2018

    Plans by the federal government to examine reviews of visa cancellations made on criminal grounds could put Australian children at risk, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Manus Island crisis must be resolved immediately

    24th Nov 2017

    The Australian government is placing refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island at serious risk and must find an immediate solution to their plight, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • UN body recommends urgent action to remedy Australia’s human rights

    10th Nov 2017

    The UN Human Rights Committee has today slammed Australia’s human rights record, recommending the implementation of ‘comprehensive federal legislation’ to guarantee human rights, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Government must act urgently to prevent humanitarian crisis on Manus

    31st Oct 2017

    Closing Manus Island detention centre without ensuring that residents have a safe place to go presents an urgent risk of a humanitarian crisis, directly conflicting with Australia’s obligations under work health and safety legislation and international law, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Minister seeks to evade the law by criticising refugee advocates

    30th Aug 2017

    By criticising lawyers seeking to assist refugees and asylum seekers, Minister Dutton is seeking to evade the government’s responsibilities, undermining accountability and the rule of law, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Commonwealth ignoring the law by evicting Manus Island refugees

    2nd Aug 2017

    Comcare must act immediately to ensure that the Commonwealth does not breach workplace safety laws by forcing people out of the Manus Island detention centre into unsafe, or potentially dangerous accommodation, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Compensation for Manus detainees is welcome but they still need a home

    14th Jun 2017

    The implicit admission by the Commonwealth that it is responsible for the unlawful suffering of nearly 2000 asylum seekers on Manus Island means that they must be evacuated from the island as soon as possible, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • UN migrants expert calls for Australian human rights act

    17th May 2017

    The call by a United Nations (UN) expert for an Australian human rights act reminds us that fundamental human rights in Australia are not protected by a Bill of Rights, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Lawyers welcome damning report from offshore detention inquiry

    21st Apr 2017

    A Senate Report stating that there is an “unacceptable lack of accountability and transparency” and a “culture of secrecy” on Nauru and Manus Island was released today. 

  • Lawyers concerned for health of PNG detainee

    20th Apr 2017

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has today expressed serious concerns regarding the health of an asylum seeker in PNG who has had his refugee application rejected.

  • How is the PI compensation process affecting your client’s recovery?

    12th Jan 2017

    The experience of a long, complex and at times adversarial legal process pursuing personal injury (PI) compensation with the need for multiple health assessments and delays in receiving funds has been shown to increase stress and recovery time for injured people.

  • Asylum-seeker ban may be unconstitutional

    30th Oct 2016

    The Turnbull Government's proposal to ban any person who arrives by boat in Australian territory from exercising their right under the Refugees Convention to claim asylum is likely to be scrutinised critically by the High Court and could be ruled unconstitutional, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Evidence shows crimes committed by our government on Nauru and Manus

    26th Oct 2016

    Evidence of crimes committed by the Turnbull Government on Manus and Nauru is compelling, say Greg Barns and Anna Talbot from the Australian Lawyers Alliance. 

  • Federal Police must investigate govt treatment of offshore detainees

    18th Oct 2016

    The evidence of crimes committed against asylum seekers being held on Manus and Nauru by the Turnbull Government is compelling and should be investigated immediately by the Federal Police, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Australia - A refugee policy to condemn not replicate

    12th Oct 2016

    At the UN Refugee Summit in NY Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, stood in front of world leaders and claimed his government’s refugee policy was the best in the world. But many people in Australia will tell you that Mr Turnbull’s boasting was misplaced.

  • Comcare must prosecute for Nauru abuses

    10th Aug 2016

    The Nauru files detailing large-scale abuse of detainees in offshore detention camps on Nauru show that Comcare, the Commonwealth workplace regulator, must prosecute for offences, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • High Court challenge to secrecy laws welcomed by lawyers

    27th Jul 2016

    The Australian Border Force Act 2015 (Cth) undermines our constitutional freedoms. The Australian Lawyers Alliance supports Doctors for Refugees and Fitzroy Legal Service bringing this problem to the High Court.

  • Criminal offences may have been committed by DIPB in offshore detentio

    27th Jun 2016

    Criminal offences may have been committed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIPB) or its contractors against people being held in immigration detention, according to a recent report released by the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

  • Imprisoning mentally ill asylum seekers suggests offences committed

    16th Jun 2016

    Reports that a mentally ill detainee on Manus Island was sent to prison instead of receiving medical treatment indicates that workplace health and safety law continues to be flouted in immigration detention.

  • Refugee week - we are all just people wanting a happy life

    16th Jun 2016

    Imagine you are incredibly wealthy. You have a house that provides for more room than you need, and you have a support network that reaches far and wide. You have medical benefits, superannuation, savings and knowledge of how life works. Imagine life is good for you. Now, imagine you knew someone who was not so lucky. Imagine you knew of someone who was living in fear of their life. Imagine this person was trying to run from a place of violence and abuse. Someone without any benefits and no understanding of how to get these benefits. The question I pose to you is this, would you help them?

  • Untold Damage - workplace health and safety in immigration

    10th Jun 2016

    Abuse, mental illness and neglect of basic hygiene cause unnecessary and lasting health problems for detainees in immigration detention. They have even caused death. As Commonwealth workplaces, all people affected by immigration detention facilities are supposed to enjoy the protections found in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (the WHS Act), including detainees. However, an investigation by the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) reveals that this law is being regularly flouted, with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the Department) regularly failing to meet its obligations.

  • Comcare inaction on detention centre abuse shows need for law reform

    8th Jun 2016

    Widespread sexual and physical abuse, self-harm, suicide attempts and deaths in immigration detention are not being adequately investigated, pointing to a need for legislative reform, according to a report released by the ALA this week.

  • Immigration detention unsafe workplaces: ALA Report

    6th Jun 2016

    Immigration detention facilities are unsafe workplaces, ALA Report finds.

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance (‘ALA’) is today releasing a ground-breaking 150-page report, Untold damage: workplace health and safety in immigration detention under the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth), (‘WHS Act’). 

  • Court ruling means detainees can claim damages from Aust govt

    26th Apr 2016

    Asylum seekers are highly likely to successfully claim damages from the Australian government following a ruling by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Supreme Court, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Human rights in OPCs: No Business in Abuse

    30th Oct 2015

    No Business in Abuse board member, Jacob Varghese, argues Transfield has breached its human rights obligations in its provision of services to the Australian Commonwealth on Manus Island and Nauru.

  • Failure to provide abortion to rape victim a new low in detainee care

    19th Oct 2015

    The Commonwealth appears to have failed in its duty of care to a 23-year-old detainee rape victim, by neglecting to provide appropriate medical counselling and advice before denying her an abortion, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Labor’s new detainee child-abuse Bill is no solution

    12th Oct 2015

    A new Private Members Bill mandating the reporting of child abuse in all offshore and onshore detention facilities is not an effective remedy, and would not go far enough to monitor or prevent abuse, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Australia’s opaque offshore asylum policy on Nauru

    2nd Oct 2015

    Joshua Dale reflects on the Senate committee inquiry into the Nauru regional processing centre and the lack of transparency.

  • DIBP leaves regulator in dark on appalling Nauru detainee conditions

    28th Aug 2015

    Numerous incidents over the past two years, including allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and assaults of people held on Nauru, do not appear to have been reported to Comcare by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (‘DIBP’), the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Injuries in detention centres apparently not investigated by Comcare

    1st Jul 2015

    Workplace insurer Comcare appears to have failed to investigate numerous serious incidents and injuries which occurred at Commonwealth detention centres, according to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request made by the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

  • Courageous detention centre staff challenge the government

    1st Jul 2015

    Courageous staff from immigration detention centres have today challenged the federal government to prosecute them, as the Border Force Act 2015 commences as law. The ethical and legal dilemma posed to these professionals is considerable with the full consequences yet to come, writes lawyer Ebony Birchall. 

  • Govt’s Migration ‘loophole’ Bill incompatible with current law

    30th Jun 2015

    New legislation passed by the Parliament last week to evade High Court litigation regarding the validity of regional processing centres is incompatible with Australia’s obligations at law, which it cannot contract or legislate away, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Govt’s rushed Migration Amendment Bill is unconscionable

    24th Jun 2015

    A last-minute Bill seeking to head off court action challenging the Federal government’s power to fund offshore detention facilities is unconscionable, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Doctors should obtain legal advice before treating asylum seekers

    19th Jun 2015

    Medical professionals working in immigration detention centres should obtain legal advice about their professional liability following new legislation which could gag them from speaking out about poor conditions for detainees, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Nauru and the Moss Review

    19th May 2015

    A Senate inquiry is currently examining the Commonwealth's duty of care in Nauru following the release of the Moss Review, which detailed abhorrent allegations of sexual abuse and harassment in the centre. We submitted to the inquiry, asserting that the Commonwealth has a duty of care both at common law and under work, health and safety laws. 

  • Detainee abuse letter: Evidence of Govt’s breach of duty of care?

    8th Apr 2015

    A letter alleging that the Australian Government knew children were suffering sexual abuse at the Nauru detention centre is stunning first evidence that the government may have failed to protect detainees from harm, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Moss Review shows Nauru asylum seekers are our responsibility

    20th Mar 2015

    The Federal Government’s own review of asylum seekers held in offshore detention centres on Nauru shows that it does have a non-delegable duty of care to people detained and may leave the Commonwealth liable for a swathe of future compensation claims, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Ferouz legal team named ALA Queensland 2015 Civil Justice Award Winner

    13th Feb 2015

    The legal team which fought to free baby Ferouz and his family from detention has been declared the winner of the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) Queensland Civil Justice Award.

  • Baby Ferouz legal team named ALA Qld 2015 Civil Justice Award Winner

    13th Feb 2015

    The legal team which fought to free baby Ferouz and his family from detention has been declared the winner of the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) Queensland Civil Justice Award.

  • Govt must urgently release children in detention

    12th Feb 2015

    Clear evidence that children being held in immigration detention centres are developing serious mental issues shows the urgency of releasing them into the community as soon as possible, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Govt treatment of Manus detainees could be found negligent

    12th Dec 2014

    The Manus Island Report shows clearly that the Australian Government may have breached its duty of care to deceased detainee Reza Berati and could be found negligent for its treatment of asylum seekers detained on Manus Island, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • New migration legislation may be unconstitutional

    5th Dec 2014

    Federal legislation which reintroduces Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) undermines the United Nations Refugee Convention and may in fact be unconstitutional, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Immigration Department carrying out asylum seeker ‘round-up’

    18th Sep 2014

    A large group of asylum-seekers currently being ‘round up’ by the Commonwealth are at very real risk of suicide or even death if they are forced to return to their home countries, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Millions spent on ‘voluntary return’ of asylum seekers

    5th Aug 2014

    The Commonwealth has spent nearly $3 million on the ‘voluntary return’ of almost 1100 asylum seekers to their country of origin in less than a year, according to information obtained under freedom of information laws by the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) today.

  • Asylum seeker cover-up allegations constitute abuse in care

    31st Jul 2014

    Allegations that the Department of Immigration tried to cover up mental health problems amongst child-aged asylum seekers constitutes abuse in care and may leave the Commonwealth liable for a swathe of future compensation claims, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Asylum seekers suffering ‘cruel and inhuman punishment’

    23rd Jul 2014

    The 157 asylum seekers being held on an Australian customs vessel on the high seas are being held in ‘torturous’ conditions which breach international conventions on civil and political rights, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

  • Decades of case law conflict with Migration Bill

    26th Jun 2014

    Changes to the Migration Act introduced into Parliament yesterday by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison are at odds with decisions made in the High Court since 1989 and international case law, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

  • Migration changes introduced mark a new low

    25th Jun 2014

    Changes to the Migration Act introduced into Parliament today by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison marks a new low in respect of Australia meeting its international human rights protections, and a new attack on procedural fairness and the separation of powers, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

  • Lawyers call for legislative amendment to Migration Act

    18th Jun 2014

    The High Court’s decision in Plaintiff S156-2013 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection highlights the lack of adequate protections in Australia’s migration law, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

  • Manus Inquiry: Lawyers' evidence given

    16th Jun 2014

    Representatives of the ALA appeared before the #manusinquiry, giving evidence as to Australia's duty of care obligations at common law.

  • Manus Inquiry: Lawyers to give evidence about duty of care

    13th Jun 2014

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance appears at the Senate Inquiry into the incident at Manus Island today. In our submission, we asserted that the Commonwealth has a non-delegable duty of care to asylum seekers that continues to exist regardless of where they are being detained.

  • ALA to speak re asylum seekers and duty of care to Senate Inquiry

    12th Jun 2014

    On Friday, the Australian Lawyers Alliance will appear at public hearings for the Senate Inquiry into the incident at Manus Island in which Mr Berati was tragically killed.

  • Govt knowledge of security breaches may strengthen claims

    13th May 2014

    Revelations that the Commonwealth knew of security flaws at Manus Island may strengthen claims by asylum seekers who have suffered injuries as a result of security breaches, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

  • Manus: You can't delegate your duty

    5th May 2014

    The Australian government may have a non-delegable duty of care to asylum seekers, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today, in a submission to a Senate inquiry into the tragic death of Reza Berati on Manus Island.

  • Australia cannot outsource legal duty on asylum seekers

    18th Feb 2014

    Australia continues to have a non-delegable duty to people seeking asylum in Australia, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

  • Damaged human rights record will plunge further

    22nd Jan 2014

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance said today that Human Rights Watch’s assessment of Australian asylum seeker policy as ‘draconian’ will plunge further in coming months if legislation currently on the table passes in the Parliament of Australia.

  • Concern for asylum seekers wellbeing – ALA

    13th Sep 2013

    Almost $28 million has been spent by Australia on asylum seekers compensation claims since 2000. Of this, $21.1 million was for unlawful detention in 299 matters and $6.9 million for breaches of duty-of-care and statutory duties towards 150 others, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

  • Election winner must have heart when dealing with asylum seekers - ALA

    3rd Sep 2013

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance is calling on the winner of this weekend’s federal election to adopt compassionate asylum seeker policies and in doing so both improve access to justice for some of the world’s most vulnerable and give Australia’s international reputation a boost at the same time.

  • Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers may breach international law

    5th Aug 2013

    Australia’s treatment of asylum seeking detainees may be considered akin to torture and urgent measures were needed to protect such vulnerable people under law, the Australian Lawyers Alliance warned today.

  • Rudd’s continuing hard line on asylum seekers - ALA

    24th Jul 2013

    Harsh and unjust asylum seeker policy, which is continuing under the new Rudd Government leadership, puts asylum seekers at risk of further trauma and, as a consequence, Australian taxpayers under increasing financial burden to compensate for the afflictions that such policies create, The Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

  • ALA calls for immediate removal of boy in Tas detention centre

    9th Jul 2013

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance is calling for the immediate removal of an 11-year-old child from Pontville detention centre in Tasmania.

  • Orphan must be taken from Christmas Island to his family - ALA

    10th May 2013

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance today called on the federal government to remove a nine-year-old Sri Lankan boy, recently orphaned, from Christmas Island, to save him from exacerbated psychological trauma.

  • Clarity needed over Abbott’s ‘turn back boats’ policy

    29th Apr 2013

    An opinion piece by ALA National President, Anthony Kerin, on Abbott's 'turn back boats' policy.

  • Reopening detention centre will increase compensation claims – ALA

    24th Apr 2013

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance today called on the federal government to stop detaining children and families as part of its asylum seeker policy.

  • Asylum seekers in WA must be offered protections of Aus law - ALA

    15th Apr 2013

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance is concerned that the rights of a boatload of Sri Lankan men, women and children who reached WA on Tuesday are being ignored as Australia continues to flout its international obligations to asylum seekers.

  • Don’t use asylum seekers for political gain - ALA

    27th Feb 2013

    “The fact that one asylum seeker, out of tens of thousands, has been charged with a criminal offence should not lead to a further erosion of the already limited rights of asylum seekers in the community,” ALA criminal law spokesman, Greg Barns, said today.

  • Australian Gov failing in its duty to asylum seekers

    19th Nov 2012

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance has labelled as ‘abysmal’ the Australian government’s failure to ensure 14 asylum seekers, facing rioting charges in a Nauru court, are given proper legal representation.

  • Govt reaches new low with its treatment of asylum seekers

    30th Oct 2012

    The Gillard Government has reached a new low in its inhumanity towards asylum seekers, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

  • ALA National Civil Justice Award 2012

    26th Oct 2012

    Justice crusaders Eddie Mabo and David Manne are this year’s winners of the Australian Lawyers Alliance National Civil Justice Award.

  • Nauru’s tent city shames Australia - ALA

    11th Sep 2012

    The ALA reiterates its opposition to offshore processing, following reports of tents being erected to house asylum seekers for up to six months during the wet season on Nauru.

  • Opportunistic politicians trading in human misery for votes - ALA

    3rd Sep 2012

    “Professional people smugglers aren’t the only occupation trading in human misery in Australia – opportunistic politicians are capitalising on fear and ignorance with a quick easy vote-grab that harshly punishes some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” Australian Lawyers Alliance National President, Tony Kerin, said today.

  • ALA welcomes end to mandatory sentencing for people smuggling crews

    25th Aug 2012

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance is welcoming yesterday’s announcement by the Gillard Government of an end to mandatory sentencing for those crewing people smuggling vessels, but says those wrongly sentenced, under such laws, should now have their situations addressed.

  • Better treatment of asylum seekers will lead to less legal claims

    23rd Aug 2012

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance today welcomed the AMA’s call for independent medical assessments of asylum seekers.

  • Unjust mandatory sentencing laws jailing vulnerable and marginalised

    17th Aug 2012

    “The jailing of an impoverished Indonesian fisherman in South Australia last Thursday, in what the trial judge labelled as the 'lowest level of involvement' for a people smuggling crime, is highlighting unjust Australian laws that discriminatorily incarcerate people,” Australian Lawyers Alliance National President, Tony Kerin, said today.

  • ALA labels Gillard asylum seeker measures 'cruel and outrageous'

    15th Aug 2012

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance is labelling as ‘cruel and outrageous’ rushed Federal Government plans to process asylum seekers in both Nauru and Manus Island by Friday.

  • ALA welcomes panel recommendation to increase asylum seeker intake

    13th Aug 2012

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance today welcomed an expert panel decision to increase the intake of asylum seekers into Australia, but is concerned about a recommendation for offshore processing in countries that can not guarantee the health and welfare of asylum seekers.

  • Mandatory sentencing laws for people smuggling crews unfair - ALA

    3rd Aug 2012

    “Organisers behind people smuggling stand to make windfall profits from each boat, however the skippers and crews of these vessels are often just additional victims of this trade in human misery,” Australian Lawyers Alliance Northern Territory spokesman, Greg Phelps, said today.

  • Aust Gov must compensate children illegally detained - ALA

    27th Jul 2012

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance is calling on the Australian Government to pay compensation to children who have been illegally detained in this country on suspicion of people smuggling following the release of a damning Human Rights Commission report on the matter today.

  • NT immigration detention taskforce may cause more harm than good - ALA

    24th Jul 2012

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance is expressing concern, today, that a new Commonwealth-funded police taskforce, being installed to manage violence in the Northern Territory, may create more harm than good.

  • Dark day as bills threaten asylum seekers and Indigenous rights

    28th Jun 2012

    “Two bills concurrently being considered by the Australian Federal Parliament flag the urgent need for a Federal Human Rights Act to protect the rights of the marginalised and disadvantaged,” Australian Lawyers Alliance National President, Greg Barns, said today.

  • 'Malaysian solution' challenger to receive ALA Civil Justice Award

    16th May 2012

    The human rights work of leading immigration lawyer, David Manne, who was the lead player in putting an end to the Federal Government’s ‘Malaysian Solution’ will be recognised at the annual Australian Lawyers Alliance Victorian Conference in Lorne this week.