For $19,000, refugees will be reunited with their families in Australia. It will be an expansion to a pilot scheme set up in 2013. The former plan charged $19, 124 to the first refugee and $2680 for subsequent applicants, and around $30, 000 for the average family of five.
The Australian relatives would be required to repay the incurred costs by their migrating family members within the first few years of settlement.
Chief executive of the Australian Refugee Council Paul Power is supporting the idea of Australia helping refugees resettle with their families, although he stated that the scheme is “really about the Australian-based family paying a large sum of money to the Department of Immigration.”
“It definitely does advantage refugees who have relatives in Australia with financial means over people who otherwise would have resettled on the basis of humanitarian need.”
Mr Power elaborated that the fee is added to the cost of airfares, payments to community organisations that assist with settlement and medical checks, bringing the cost of migrating a family of five to Australia to $45, 000.
The federal government has suggested the scheme will allow refugees to apply for a humanitarian visa by means that the family already in Australia will provide ‘significant financial support’ throughout settlement, reports the SMH. The proposal has come to light in an attempt to cut down on resettlement costs.
“The government has saved money by getting families of refugees to pay expenses that previously would have come out of Treasury,” said Power.
The proposal will not apply to those who arrived illegally on unauthorised boats.
A department spokeswomen has assured the fast-tracking scheme is not a ‘buy-a-visa’ arrangement.
Applicants must meet humanitarian visa requirements. She said “including being subject to persecution or substantial discrimination amounting to gross violation of human rights in their home country, as well as health, character, and security checks.”