Free Migration Agents
AFFMA’s MOVING ONLINE IN 2018
Dear Valued Readers,
Since 2013, AFFMA’s dedicated volunteers have provided legal advice to hundreds of refugees. We have lodged protection visa applications for refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Lybia, Iran and Nigeria, among other countries.
Our lawyers, migration agents, acting CEO, board members, office staff, practice manager, bookkeepers, Graphic designer, legal assistant and newsletter team have all contributed to AFFMA’s great success. However, a lack of funding has made it increasingly difficult to maintain our office space, and at its last meeting, the Board voted to move AFFMA’s operations fully online starting in January 2018.
This restructure is an opportunity to cut down on operating costs such as rent, electricity, and other office expenses and refocus our attention and resources on our clients. Starting in January, clients will contact our support desk by filling out a form on our website or by sending an email to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The support team will forward all inquiries to one of AFFMA’s volunteer lawyers or migration agents, who will then contact the client and organise a meeting to discuss the case. If it has merits and is within the lawyer’s or migration agent’s area of expertise, he or she will help the client apply for a protection visa.
Our fee structure will remain unchanged; we continue to offer our services free of charge, with an administrative fee of $250 per application plus GST.
Current clients will not be affected by the restructuring
Our current clients will not be affected by our restructure. Their lawyer or migration agent will continue to assist with their cases until a decision is made by the Department of Home Affairs.
AFFMA’s office will close for the Christmas holidays from Monday 18 December 2017 to Friday 19 January 2018. When we re-open we will be fully online and can only be contacted on <email@example.com>. All other correspondence must be addressed to:
Association of Fee Free Migration Agents (AFFMA)
PO Box 610
Newtown, NSW 2042
We thank you all for your continuing support and we wish you all a happy holiday season.
Joël Gédéon, JP
Lawyer, Pro Bono Migration Agent. MARN: 1066986
Global refugee news …
- Refugees from across Africa are being bought and sold in modern day slave markets in Libya. Read more.
- Sexual predators and human traffickers are targeting Rohingya refugees in camps on the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Read more.
- Myanmar and Bangladesh have signed an agreement for the return of 300 Rohingya refugees per day. Read more.
- A Sri Lankan asylum seeker has died on Manus Island in an apparent suicide. Read more.
- A coalition of human rights groups have presented reports to the United Nations that condemn Australia’s refugee policies. Read more.
- Australia has given $30 million to UNICEF to support vulnerable children in Lebanon. Read more.
- A man who participated in a people smuggling operation in 2013 has been sentenced to four years in prison. Read more.
Global refugee news …
- The United States may cut its refugee intake to 45,000, its lowest in decades. Read more.
- Rohingya refugees are facing increased hostility in Bangladesh. Read more.
- Cameroon has forcibly returned 100,000 Nigerian refugees over the last two years, allegedly to slow the spread of extremism. Read more.
- Twenty two refugees have left Manus Island for the United States. Read more.
- The Refugee Review Tribunal has been found to have cut-and-pasted paragraphs in multiple decisions. Read more.
The United National High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 59.5 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide, and many states recognise that they have a responsibility to help refugees. However, the political rhetoric surrounding refugees, both in Australia and around the world, is largely negative and ignores the fact that Click here to read more.
Global refugee news …
- A new deal between Germany and Egypt is expected to stem the flow of refugees from the Middle East. Read more.
- Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders have ceased rescue operations in the Mediterranean due to threats from Libya’s coast guard. Read more.
- Hostility towards Syrian refugees is rising in Lebanon. Read more.
- Around 9,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have crossed the Bangladeshi border after the army set fire to their villages and killed 96 civilians. Read more.
- Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has come under fire for saying that lawyers who provide pro-bono assistance to refugees are “un-Australian.” Read more.
- The Attorney-General of Papua New Guinea has said that Australia will not be permitted to leave asylum seekers behind when it closes the Manus Island detention centre. Read more.
- Asylum seekers who have been transferred to Australia for medical treatment will no longer receive welfare payments or be allowed to live in government housing. Read more.
- A security guard has been fired and charged with assaulting an asylum seeker on Nauru. Read more.
URGENTLY WANTED: Volunteer Migration Agents
AFFMA is looking for migration agents who are willing to complete a protection visa on a pro bono basis, either at their own office/home or at AFFMA’s office in Newtown.
AFFMA is an Approved Voluntary Organisation.
Migration agents volunteering with us can claim one CPD point for every three hours of pro bono work.
Please email your expression of interest to the CEO <Recruitment@affma.org.au>
Do you have a vacancy you wish to advertise? AFFMA’s Members can advertise vacancies free of charge. Please email <Recruitment@affma.org.au>
Limited resources to address the global refugee crisis
The Refugee Council of Australia said that the refugee intake has increased slightly, but a humane solution to resettlement was not in the cards. In contrast, Canada has taken an inclusive approach towards refugees, resettling 40,000 people in 2016.
The Canadian model is focused on community sponsorship, with local communities cooperating to support new arrivals. Australia’s community support program is focused on shifting costs. For instance, sponsors are responsible for paying a bond and visa application fee, which has the potential to create tensions between refugees and their sponsors.
Detention centre funding
The Government has allocated $1.91 billion to immigration detention centres. The inhumane conditions at these facilities have been well-documented. Self-harm, suicide, and severe psychological distress are all too common, and yet the Government has allocated more money to a failing approach.
Australia needs to reconsider its policies, and perhaps look at what other countries, such as Canada, are doing. We cannot forget the reason why refugees flee their homelands. We cannot turn a blind eye to the negative impacts of mandatory detention. This is not a viable approach to the global refugee crisis.
BA (UNSW), LLB (Macquarie University) – Student at law.