Kate Maclurcan recently risked
losing her job as a co-ordinator with Bridge for Asylum Seekers
Foundation (BASF) after funding for the project threatened
to dry up.
Kate’s has worked with
BASF for two years, providing financial support to asylum
seekers living in the community on Bridging Visa Es or Habeas
Corpus orders, who are not allowed to work. She first offered
her spare room to refugees released into the community five
years ago, and her advocacy extends through her music and
substantial volunteer work.
What would happen if the organisation
I hate to think. Families
and single people just could not get by. They have nothing to eat,
no access to a place to live or to medical help. These people have
fl ed their homeland and need our protection.
Have you found the mainstream
media coverage of issues around asylum seekers and immigration detention
to be a help or hindrance to your cause?
That depends entirely
on the slant of the coverage. I think it was Adele Horin whose column
last year told of Peter Qasim’s seven years in detention.
There was outrage. People had no idea our authorities were holding
innocent people for so long. But we are dealing with these sorts
of traumas on a daily basis.
What changes to asylum seeker
policy do you feel are most crucial?
Firstly, get rid of
Temporary Protection Visas. Once refugee protection is granted,
it should not be conditional. We can’t imagine the horror
of living on a TPV, terrified you could be sent home at any time.
A TPV prevents you from applying for your family to come here
- your husband, wife or children. Families are torn apart and distraught.
Secondly, give work rights and access
to Medicare to those on Bridging Visas while they await the processing
of their refugee claim.
At its National conference in April
2007, the ALP passed the changes to TPVs and guaranteed work rights
topeople on BVEs. We hope this will occur.
Do you think the looming Federal
election will provide a platform to campaign on refugee issues,
or bury the issue further?
I do hope it will become
an issue. I think there are thousands of Australians who are increasingly
ashamed that our country treats refugees this way.
Is Bridge for Asylum Seeker
Foundation currently dealing with funding issues?
We are always running
to keep up! Recently the numbers we look after skyrocketed to 116.
That is hard to sustain. Fortunately, some were granted protection
visas and, consequently, able to start working. We are now back
at 102. Money for my job was about to run out. Thankfully, Leichhardt
Council voted unanimously to tip some more funds in. We are extremely
Contact Kate at BASF on 9810 5826 or