The Seeking Refuge Project (SRP) is a partnership between local group Bellarine for Refugees, Refugee Legal and BCLS. The project has been in operation since January 2016 with Marijana Hawkins coordinating as the Project Worker for two days a week.
The SRP has assisted Asylum Seekers who arrived by boat between 13 August 2012 and 1 January 2014 and were living in the Geelong and Bellarine regions and some Western suburbs of Melbourne to apply for a Protection Visa and navigate the complex ‘Fast Track’ assessment process.
The process was nothing but “fast” and required applicants to answer over 100 questions and provide a detailed statement for protection, all in English. To achieve this, the SRP employed approximately 70 volunteer Migration Agents and Administrative Assistants who assisted the Asylum Seekers to complete their Protection Visa applications. These volunteers answered a total of 7676 questions to complete 76 Protection Visa applications, all supervised by lawyers from Refugee Legal.
Assistance was provided over eight Saturday clinics and an exhausting number of pre-clinic appointments to reach multiple and ever-changing deadlines set by the Immigration Minister, the final one being 1 October 2017.
Stage 1 of the SRP has now been completed. It has seen 15 successful visas granted to date with hopefully many more to come as they are assessed by the Department of Immigration.
The SRP continues to assist the clients with post lodgement and interview requests and is currently planning for Stage 2, the details of which have not yet been confirmed.
This project could not have been possible without the assistance of Bellarine for Refugees, Refugee Legal, Diversitat, Deakin University, various Rural Australians for Refugee groups, the Wesley Centre for Life Enrichment, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the donors, supporters and, of course, the army of SRP volunteers. The SRP is an example of successful collaboration between multiple stakeholders to effectively assist the most vulnerable people to achieve what we all take for granted, peace and safety.