Advance Diversity Services (ADS) joins its partner organisations and other humanitarian organisations, human rights groups and Afghan communities in Australia in urging the federal government to consider a special intake of Afghan refugees fleeing violence from the Taliban.
‘Our heartfelt sadness, solidarity and support goes out to the people of Afghanistan, and to our staff and clients who are deeply affected due to the devastating situation in their homeland,’ said CEO of ADS Antoinette Chow.
‘We urge the Australian government to grant refugee and humanitarian visas to people from Afghanistan and also to those who are already in Australia on temporary visas and/or in immigration and community detention centres.’
Ms Chow said she welcomed the recent announcement by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke confirming the extension of temporary visas for people from Afghanistan in Australia but Australia needed to step up its support and protection for people at grave risk.
She said ADS adds its voice to the calls of other refugee and humanitarian organisations for the Australian Government to offer urgent practical assistance, including, as the petition on Change.org says, to:
• Expedite bringing Afghan nationals who worked with the Australian mission in Afghanistan safely into Australia.
• Provide permanent visas to protection applicants already in Australia, particularly members of ethnic and religious minority groups.
• Desist from sending Afghan asylum seekers and refugees back to danger, as per Australia’s non-refoulment obligations.
• Create a temporary compelling emergency visa to provide temporary protection to at-risk groups (e.g., journalists, human rights workers, and women civil society activists), until the situation in Afghanistan improves.
• Increase humanitarian intake for Afghan refugees, particularly targeted groups including journalists, human rights activists, members of religious and ethnic minority groups and the LGBTI community.
Ms Chow emphasised urgency in extending humanitarian support to women and people from multiple marginalised communities including artists, artisans, scholars and writers, particularly from the Hazara minority group, LGBTQIA+ identities and people with disability whose lives and creative expression are at risk under an oppressive Taliban regime.
A joint letter signed by more than 300 organisations and sent to all Parliamentarians on August 18 called on the Australian Government to urgently take practical supportive steps, including offering additional refugee resettlement places for Afghan refugees immediately, as the Australian Government did in 2015 with 12,000 additional places for Syrian and Iraqi refugees and immediately increasing Australian aid to the region.
‘ADS supports these calls because we believe Australia has a moral duty toward the Afghan people. We believe Australia should commit to an additional humanitarian intake of at least 20,000 prioritising the most vulnerable persecuted Afghans.’
Ways you can help or be helped
Ms Chow said the Settlement Services International website provides myriad ways for people to help people in Afghanistan, including donating funds, signing petitions and volunteering time.
ADS offers settlement assistance and other services to migrants and refugees seeking support, and encourages any newly arrived person from Afghanistan clients in the St George and Sutherland Shire areas to contact its Settlement and Community Services team on 9597 5455.
‘We are here to give support to people from Afghanistan – both to individuals and families uprooted from their homes and to the diaspora living in Australia. Our thoughts and compassion are with you during this disturbing and difficult time,’ Ms Chow said.
Other help available
STARTTS offers counselling and community support services to people who have been affected by torture and trauma. Members of the Afghan community who would benefit from STARTTS support are encouraged to refer themselves or family members to STARTTS.
If you wish to support someone to apply for a humanitarian visa to Australia can call the Department of Home Affairs’ Global Service Centre – 131 881 or outside Australia +61 2 6196 0196 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm local time).
For legal advice about supporting or sponsoring family in Afghanistan (or outside Afghanistan), contact Refugee Service by sending an email – firstname.lastname@example.org or call 8713 6725.
(Due to high demand you may need to wait a week or so before Legal Aid can get back to you.)
If you’re living in Australia and impacted by the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan and feeling depressed and/or anxious, please contact the following support services:
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help now, call triple zero (000).