Up until April 2014, RACS and similar organisations had been funded under the Federal Government’s Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS). Established in 1997, the scheme succeeded in reducing the possibility that a person with genuine protection claims might, contrary to Australia’s international obligations, be returned to danger because of lack of access to independent and professional advice when applying for asylum. The IAAAS program had received bipartisan support prior to the last election.
In April 2014 the Federal Government announced to slash funding and access to free legal services for the majority of asylum seekers with immediate and significant consequences for the work performed by RACS, not to mention the future prospects of the vulnerable men, women, and children we assist.
RACS still receives a capped amount of money from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) to assist people who came to Australia by plane and have then sought asylum. No government funding has been allocated either for those who arrive by boat or to provide family reunion casework. Additionally, RACS continues to accept on occasion compelling matters and meritorious cases in which the character of the work required falls outside the scope of its funding contracts with the Government (such as visa cancellation reviews). In this scheme, we only receive a very small percentage of the funds required to support our service. We also receive a small grant of money through the Public Purpose Fund, which is administered by Legal Aid NSW.
Why We Need Your Help
The people we help are quite simply the most ordinary of people. They come from every walk of life. They call on RACS to be their voice as they ask Australia to extend to them protection and safety. RACS clients come from a broad range of cultures, originating from over 65 different countries. Despite their diversity, the majority of the people we assist share a common fear of persecution, which they have fled from after being subjected to torment, torture, and trauma.
With great foresight and commitment to continue our invaluable work, RACS has established a fundraising function to assist in the transition toward an independent funding model. Having lost 85% of our funding, the future of RACS relies on the broad support of individuals and institutions concerned that the current treatment and politicisation of asylum seekers is inconsistent with the notion of a good society. Now, more than ever, RACS needs your support.