Groups call for Government action

September 10, 2021 BY

Support: Regional Victorian refugee support groups are sending a resolution to the Federal Government, urging them to take action to help Afghan refugees. Photo: SUPPLIED

REFUGEE support groups from across Victoria have come together to call on the Federal Government to extend more support to Afghan refugees.

Following the Taliban’s takeover of the country last month, 14 branches of Rural Australians for Refugees and other groups from Bendigo, Swan Hill and Dunkeld want the Government to take five key actions.

Member of Amnesty International Bendigo, Jan Govett, united the groups last week and said the support stems from similar efforts by the Afghan Australian Advocacy Network, who started the Action for Afghanistan petition.

“We want to support the voices coming out of a network called Action for Afghanistan who are calling for six points for the government to take, one of them being to increase the number of places being offered for visas for people to come safely to Australia,” she said.

“The Government’s offered 3000 within the annual humanitarian intake, but we’re calling for a lot more places and over and above our annual intake.

“We took 12,000 Syrians a few years ago and it just seems to me incredible that we’re not thinking along the same sort of lines with Afghanistan where we’ve had such a close connection over the years.”

As well as increasing the Government’s humanitarian intake of 13,750 people by 20,000, the regional groups are calling for permanent protection for Afghan refugees in Australia, and their ability to apply to bring their families here.

They are also advocating for the Government to allow people registered through the UN’s Refugee Agency in Indonesia to resettle in Australia, and work with international partners to pressure the Taliban to take genuine steps toward peace and reconciliation.

Ms Govett said some Afghan refugees she works with still have family in the country and are “totally distraught.”

“A number of them are on temporary protection visas so they’ve had their own traumas for a number of years and now this is an extra trauma on top of that,” she said.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of people needing a lot of help for a long time within our community, let alone overseas.”