In a much-publicised move, the Federal Government has announced refugees on temporary protection visas (TPV) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV) will now have a pathway to permanent residency.
Around 20,000 people on these temporary visas will now be able to apply for a Resolution of Status Visa. This is a permanent visa and comes with the right to access social security in Australia.
Holders of TPVs and SHEVs have had very little access to social security in Australia. Holders of these visas could only access Special Benefit and Family Tax Benefit, which come with strict eligibility criteria.
Permanent residents have access to all social security payments and concession cards. Holders of Resolution of Status Visas are considered refugees, and as such are subject to exemptions to waiting periods for social security. This means once receiving their Resolution of Status Visa, holders should immediately meet the residency requirements for social security payments through Centrelink.
This is a significant step forward for thousands of refugees who have lived for years without access to social security in Australia. We get many calls through our Worker Help Line from worried workers, who are supporting refugees without social security access. We know that without access to basic social security, people struggle to meet their daily needs and enjoy a decent standard of living.
We recognise these changes do not apply to, nor address lack of access to, social security for all refugees subject to the temporary protection regime reintroduced in 2013.
Information about specific visas and social security eligibility can be found in the Social Security Guide here.
If you, or your client, is having trouble understanding their rights to access social security you can call us on our Legal Assistance Line at 03 9481 0355, Workers can call our Worker Help Line on 03 9481 0655.