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A tale of two Australias

26 October 2022 at 9:21 am
Kon Karapanagiotidis
The budget was a tale of two Australias, one of well-being and the other of failed expectations, write Jana Favero and Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM.

A tale of two Australias
26 October 2022 at 9:21 am

The budget was a tale of two Australias, one of well-being and the other of failed expectations, write Jana Favero and Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM.

The Albanese government was elected with a mandate of change, fairness and compassion. The Australian public voted overwhelmingly against the politics of fear and division. On the back of this, we were filled with hope with the election result in May. Hope and excitement, the excitement of working with a progressive government and what it could achieve for people seeking asylum and refugees.

We approached the 2022 October budget with high hopes for change in our key priority areas of safety, freedom, fairness and wellbeing. Priority areas that had been shaped and set by refugees and people seeking asylum. Specifically, we were looking for budget commitments to align the election and platform commitments the ALP had made. 


Jana Favero and Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM (second and third from the left respectively) are pictured with independent MP Andrew Wilkie (centre) and a delegation of people seeking asylum.

We had such anticipation, that after an 11-hour day of lobbying, we stuck around in Parliament House glued to our computer, phone and TV screens looking for news of additional spending to support ALP’s positive refugee policies. 

As we scrolled through speeches, WhatsApp (when it finally started working again!), social media and budget papers we struggled to find good news for refugees and people seeking asylum. We checked and double-checked Budget Paper 2, Department of Home Affairs and Department of Social Services portfolio statements shaking our heads at the lack of information and exclusion of refugees from wellbeing spending.

Once again we were left disappointed as politics plays with the lives of people seeking asylum and refugees who continue to be locked out of mainstream measures and support. The wellbeing and family budget for ‘all Australians’ didn’t provide any additional relief to refugees and people seeking asylum.

Here’s our initial breakdown: 

The good

We welcome the following:

  • Increase in funding to the Australian Human Rights Commission to undertake its functions as Australia’s national human rights institution
  • $18.4 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to allocate additional temporary visas to Ukrainians, and extend access to Medicare for a 12-month period for Ukrainians, including their immediate family members
  • $0.6 million in additional funding in 2022–23 for the Ukrainian Community and Settlement Support program.
  • $12.6 million over two years from 2022–23 for a pilot program to assist Temporary Visa Holders who are experiencing domestic violence
  • $7.5m over four years for anti-racism strategy

What’s missing?

What wasn’t in the budget tells us a lot and there is a lack of detail or spending to implement the Government’s commitment to refugee policy. The ALP platform contains many excellent improvements to refugee and asylum policy such as increased humanitarian intake, permanent protection, funded legal services, and safety net – however, none of this has appeared in the budget. 

How can refugees rebuild their lives if they are constantly forgotten and left behind? How can we find hundreds of millions of dollars to continue to harm refugees offshore and nothing for those in need of our care and protection? In summary there is: 

  • Zero additional humanitarian refugee places
  • $0 additional funding for ‘asylum seeker’ support (safety net payments), compared to 2022-23 Morrison budget
  • $150 million additional for offshore spending ($632 million compared to the Morrison Government’s $482 million for Nauru)
  • Zero additional funding or humanitarian places for refugees from Afghanistan compared to March Morrison Govt.

From here

All eyes are now on the May 2023-2024 budget and continued advocacy for increasing our humanitarian intake, pathway to permanency for people failed by the ‘Fast Track’ living 10 years in limbo, a real safety net, including the right to work and study and measures to facilitate the urgent medical evacuation of the remaining 200 refugees trapped on Nauru and PNG.

While we are shaking our heads in disbelief at the budget we have not lost hope. We are inspired by our day at Parliament with a refugee-led delegation. Their advocacy and resilience were a bright light shining on the possibilities for the future.

We hope the May budget will provide the change, compassion and fairness this government was elected on. It’s time to right the wrongs.

Kon Karapanagiotidis  |  @ProBonoNews

Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM is the CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Jana Favero  |  @ProBonoNews

Jana Favero is the director of advocacy and campaigns at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Tags : ASRC, asylum, Budget22,


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