The “Legacy Caseload” comprises approximately 31,000 asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat after 13 August 2012 and are subject to a new “Fast Track” application process. The “Fast Track” process has shorter timeframes for lodgement of complicated protection visa applications and allows for only very limited merits review.
Legacy Caseload asylum seekers have been unable to lodge their asylum claims for almost four years which has had a significant impact on their mental wellbeing and their ability to start a new life in Australia. More than 80% of the Legacy Caseload lack funding for legal assistance which means the burden of assisting this cohort falls disproportionately on community legal centres such as the ASRC and Refugee Legal.
In an effort to assist these asylum seekers, Russell Kennedy has partnered with the ASRC to address what the Law Institute of Victoria calls “a fundamental issue of access to justice” (click here to read the LIV’s full statement).
As part of a pilot program, approximately 30 Russell Kennedy volunteers run a fortnightly after-hours clinic at our Melbourne office to assist asylum seekers with protection visa application forms and to prepare their statements in support of their application. Volunteers involved in the clinic include both senior and junior lawyers as well as administrative staff and former seasonal clerks. The volunteers are supervised by lawyers from the ASRC and supported by our Pro Bono Coordinator, Emma Dunlevie, and Pro Bono Lawyer, Olivia McMillan.
Russell Kennedy is proud to support this important pilot program and we look forward to our continued partnership with the ASRC.
More information about the Legacy Caseload and the clinic can be found here.