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Together in safety: a report on the Australian government’s separation of families seeking safety

Refugees Asylum seekers Immigration detention International law Right of asylum Separated families Human rights Australia

In 2020, families around the world felt the pain of sudden separation as cities locked down, borders closed and international travel ground to a halt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Important family events were missed and moments that should have been shared were experienced alone. This separation was endured by countless families for the benefit of our wider community’s health and safety. But for some families, the pandemic was yet another setback in an already long and agonising struggle to be reunited in safety. For these families, their ongoing separation serves no defensible purpose, and their suffering is largely unrecognised.

For too long, the Australian government has escaped scrutiny for pursuing calculated policies of family separation targeting people who have sought safety in Australia.

This report exposes how the Australian government deliberately and systematically separates family members and prevents them from reuniting where one family member has sought asylum at Australia’s borders. Refugees are forced to make an unthinkable choice between their safety, their health and being with the ones they love.

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