RACS clients are people from diverse backgrounds, most of whom may not speak English and who are survivors of torture and remain traumatised and vulnerable. Our clients may be in immigration detention or in the community.
Clients typically come from countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Turkey and Zimbabwe, as well as stateless Palestinians. You can view the whole list of countries our clients come from at our Annual Reports Section.
What they all have in common is that they all want to be safe.
We thought you’d like to read about some of the amazing stories of the many vulnerable people RACS helps. The names of the clients have been changed for privacy reasons, but the stories are very real.
Family Reunion Clients:
Waheed is a refugee from Pakistan who had applied for his family to come to Australia through Humanitarian Family Sponsorship. He had to withdraw this application after his wife and parents were killed in a bomb blast. This left his siblings, who are all young children, with no parents to care for them in extremely volatile conditions.
However, Waheed did not have the money to sponsor his family through non-humanitarian avenues (significantly more expensive than Humanitarian Family Sponsorship). He was extremely distressed about the future of his family.
Fortunately for Waheed, through the help of friends and the provision of free legal assistance by RACS, he is now able to apply for an Orphan Relative Visa, to bring his young siblings to Australia. The prospect of being reunited with his family has given him a renewed sense of hope against the backdrop of great pain and trauma. He hopes that through family reunion his young siblings will be given an opportunity to have a brighter and safer future.
Nala is a single mother from Nepal with 3 young children. Nala became a refugee in Australia 3 years ago, after RACS assisted her family to apply for a Protection Visa. She rang our Centre and told us that she has a 16 year old daughter in Nepal, who she wasn’t able to bring with her when she left her country, but would like to bring her to Australia now that she was settled.
When Nala found out that a Child Visa costs over $2,000, she was really disappointed. As a single mother on Centrelink payments with 3 young children, she could barely afford to pay her rent. Fortunately, RACS was able to help her to get an interest-free loan, to pay for the cost of the visa. Then RACS helped her to apply for the Child Visa. After 9 months, the visa was granted and Nala was reunited with her daughter.
Ting is a refugee who escaped political persecution in China. Through her journey to find safety, she was separated from her son. Her son has no parental figure in China and is living with her sister. Ting’s separation from her son has caused her great sadness. RACS is providing free legal assistance to Ting in order to make a Child Visa application. Being reunited with her son in Australia will be crucial to changing Ting’s life for the better and helping her heal from trauma she continues to suffer.
Sally is a refugee from Eritrea, who was resettled in Australia through the Offshore Humanitarian Program. Sally has had a painful past as a victim of family abuse. Recently, she got married to an old love of hers and wants him to join her in Australia. RACS has assisted Sally with her Spouse Visa application. Sally’s continued drive to make her life better, despite her past traumatic experiences, is very inspiring.
Protection Visa Applicants:
Mohammad – an unaccompanied minor.
RACS has many clients who arrive in Australia as unaccompanied minors. Young boys set off on epic journeys in the hope of seeking safety, away from the violence of their home country and an opportunity to start a new, safer life. Mohammad’s story shows how difficult that journey can be.
The first time Mohammad came to our office for help, he was so traumatised he could barely speak. He was one of the 35 survivors of a boat that had sunk in Australian waters.
Mohammad is the eldest son in his family. He was 16 when he arrived in Australia. He has two sisters and two disabled brothers, one is deaf and the other has a spinal injury. His father had been a farmer in Afghanistan, but the family had fled to Pakistan, after the death of their grandfather resulted in violent land disputes.
His father found work in the coal mines in Pakistan but had an accident and could not get out of bed for two years, due to his injuries. Once Mohammad’s father recovered, he opened a shop selling groceries and Mohammad worked alongside him, to help support the family. But times were tough; Pakistan is not a safe place for Hazaras, so the family made a difficult decision: Mohammad was to try and seek asylum in Australia.
Mohammad ended up on a boat on his way to Australia, when at 3am the boat started sinking.
130 people were on that boat. The Australian Navy finally arrived at 7pm– 16 hours after the boat sank. Only 35 people survived and Mohammad was one of them.
Sadly, his parents called people in Australia to find out if their son had arrived safely and heard that the boat Mohammad was on had not arrived in Australia having sunk en route.
On hearing this news, Mohammad’s father had a heart attack and died.
Mohammad was placed in community detention and RACS became his legal representative.
Happily, Mohammad was granted a Protection Visa in two months. He is now attending school in Australia. His main focus now is trying to bring his surviving parent, his mother, his sisters and his two disabled brothers to Australia. As he says:
“Pakistan is also very dangerous for Hazaras. The Taliban and other groups have openly said they want to make Pakistan a graveyard for Hazaras. There are bomb blasts and killings of Hazaras on a regular basis. It is so dangerous that Hazaras do not leave their house, unless it is absolutely necessary.”
For Mohammad’s mother, a widowed woman with a young dependent family in Quetta, it is even more dangerous.
RACS’ Family Reunion Project has helped him with his family’s application for a Humanitarian Visa, but the wait for a visa can be up to two years. Let’s hope his family survives this wait.
After waiting for over one year, Mohamad Reza, from Pakistan was recently granted a Permanent Protection Visa with the assistance of RACS.
Mohamad is a Shia Muslim who previously worked as a taxi driver – he has survived being shot at and attacked by the Taliban, while driving on the road between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has witnessed people being beheaded and having their limbs removed by Taliban rebels. His father was also a victim of a bomb blast while working at his market stall. Mohamad is very worried about his wife and children, who are still in Pakistan as the situation there is still very dangerous.
RACS provided Mohamad with advice about bringing his wife and children to Australia. Unfortunately for Mohamad the cost of visas for his wife and children would be $5,395, which is more than he can afford at the moment. Even if he is able to get a no-interest loan, it would only cover a small proportion of the total fee. He intends to work to save up money and then return to RACS for assistance in applying for the visas.
Enhanced Screening Clients:
A former Enhanced Screening client called RACS: “I have a house to live in now and I can even go to the shops, choose my own food and then come home and cook it. Thank you so much!”
“No one is panicked anymore. It has all calmed down and is peaceful again. Thank you so much for all your help.”
These comments are from people who had called a week earlier, crying and terrified of being returned to the place they feared.