Refugee Legal is Australia’s largest not-for-profit provider of free legal services in its specialist field of immigration and refugee law.
- This year (2015-2016), Refugee Legal’s client assistance totalled over 12,300. This represents a significant increase of around 25% over the number of client transactions recorded in the 2014-2015 period.
- Fast facts for this year are:
- Total client assistance: 12,387
- Telephone advice: 7,458
- Face-to-face advice: 3,364
- People represented: 1,565
- Training & information sessions: 128
- Our clients in 2016 came from 114 countries across the globe. The top 10 countries of origin were:
- The top matters on which clients seek advice and assistance are Protection Visa applications and family related migration matters.
- The impact of Refugee Legal’s strategic work is a 100% success rate in ‘test case’ litigation. Nine cases won in the High Court of Australia have had flow-on benefits for many thousands of asylum seekers and refugees.
- Our over 500 volunteers has provided vital capacity to scale-up legal and other services, like TPV Clinics.
- Refugee Legal’s submissions were cited regularly in a number of Senate Inquiries on migration legislation.
- Delivered a national training program to non-legal professionals working with people seeking asylum to enhance interagency knowledge, collaboration and holistic approaches across the refugee sector.
- We launched Refugee Legal: Digest – a new monthly subscription service providing essential updates in immigration and refugee case law for practitioners and academics.
- Participated and presented at key national and international events, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Dialogue on Protection Challenges in Geneva.
- Executive Director and Principal Solicitor, David Manne, is recognized as an authoritative voice in the local, national and international dialogue around issues of forced migration and human rights of refugees. He is regularly sought out by the media – nationally and internationally – as a respected commentator.
- David Manne has been named on multiple occasions in the Australian edition of Best Lawyers among Australia’s ‘Leading Immigration Lawyers’, an honour conferred by his peers. He is also the recipient of numerous prestigious legal and human rights awards, and was appointed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Advisory Board of Eminent Persons.
The real stories behind the numbers
Grace* is a young African woman, in her early twenties. She grew up in a country marred by civil war. When still just a small child, many of her family were killed during the conflict. Grace survived and was sheltered and cared for by relatives.
From a young age Grace felt attracted to women, something she knew to be taboo in her community. She kept her feelings secret, fearful of the harm she would face if her community knew about her. She felt lonely and isolated.
While studying Grace met another young woman and, over time, they formed a relationship. In spite of the couple’s attempts to keep their relationship secret, the community was suspicious. Grace’s community turned on her. Grace and her partner faced verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis. Ultimately this abuse became more serious. Then, Grace was raped by a man from her community as an attempt to force her to suppress her sexuality. From that moment, she knew was under constant threat of sexual assault, torture and potentially murder.
With the assistance of a sympathetic friend, Grace was able to flee and made her way to Australia seeking protection. She came to Refugee Legal for advice and help to prepare the detailed documentation required for her visa application. She had one chance to get it right. We gave Grace the vital support she needed to explain her background, the horror of her past experiences and her real fears of being forced to return.
At the time of writing, Grace is waiting to hear if she can remain safely here in Australia to rebuild her life.