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Simplifying the process for trafficked people to obtain permanent visas

Recent amendments to the Migration Regulations[1] have simplified the criteria for trafficked people to obtain a permanent visa.

Trafficked people who have contributed to an investigation into trafficking or slavery can be granted a Referred Stay (Permanent) visa. The process for this visa pathway is set out in Migration Regulation 2.07AK.

As part of the process, applicants are required to get a certificate from the Attorney-General (or an authorised representative) indicating that they had contributed to a trafficking investigation.

Previously, regulation 2.07AK provided very specific circumstances in which a certificate could be issued, including that a brief of evidence from the investigation had to be provided to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions so that they could form an opinion about whether or not to prosecute.

This was problematic for trafficking cases because the subtle and clandestine nature of the activities can make it difficult to gather enough evidence to prepare a brief.

Now, under the amendment (which took effect on the 21st of November), a certificate can be issued where a victim of trafficking or slavery has made a contribution to, or cooperated closely with, an investigation, regardless of whether the investigation actually led to a prosecution. This widens the scope of circumstances in which the Attorney-General can issue the certificate, and may make it easier for victims of trafficking to stay permanently in Australia.

There are still a number of other steps set out in regulation 2.07AK, including the requirement that the Minister must be satisfied that the applicant would be in danger if they returned to their home country. Anti-Slavery Australia recommends that the policy regarding the assessment of danger to a trafficked person should be expanded to allow multiple factors to be considered. This could include issues of gender or racial discrimination, and the risk of re-trafficking.

Anti-Slavery Australia commends the amendments that have been made, but considers that there is still work to be done in order to make it easier for trafficked people to find security after their traumatic experiences.

[1] Migration Legislation Amendment (2015 Measures No. 3) Regulation 2015, Schedule 4.


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