Refugee Week presents an opportunity to recognise the ongoing challenges being endured by refugees and people seeking Asylum in Australia, every day. It is a time when the whole Australian population can come together to collectively ask the government to adopt policies that ensure refugees and people seeking asylum are treated with dignity, compassion and respect.
Welcome Merchant strives to continually shed light on the negative impact that temporary protection visas (TPVs) have on those seeking protection within Australia’s borders. Among them is Arad Nik, whose experience with TPVs exemplifies the struggles endured by many. Arad’s story serves as a rallying cry for change in Australia’s refugee visa laws. It is a plea to the Australian government to address the negative impact of TPVs and provide a path to stability and hope for those seeking asylum in Australia.
Arad’s arrival in Australia: The harsh reality of bridging visas
Arad’s arrival on Christmas Island in August 2012 marked the beginning of a difficult journey. From here he spent almost 2 years in detention in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. When released from detention in late 2014 with a bridging visa in hand, Arad faced many restrictions. He was not permitted to work or study, and he could not see his family. The constant uncertainty and limitations attached to the visa caused significant distress, hindering his ability to build a new life in Australia.
Arad’s temporary visa status
After four years on a bridging visa, Arad eventually received a temporary protection visa – a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa. A condition of Arad’s new visa was that he live in regional Australia, so he relocated to Tasmania. Once settled in Tasmania Arad started working, with the government’s promise of permanent residency after three and a half years of working or studying on this visa never far from his mind. Three and half years came and went. It took almost 6 years of being on a temporary visa before Arad was granted a permanent protection visa.
The Impact on Family and Relationships
One of the most devastating consequences of temporary visas is the separation of families. Arad reveals the heartache of being unable to reunite with loved ones due to the complex and lengthy processes involved. The emotional toll and strain on relationships are immeasurable.
Persia’s Pantry: A Story of Resilience and Hope
Despite the challenges he faced, Arad’s determination led him to start Persia’s Pantry, a business inspired by his mother’s strength during her own displacement. The venture represents not only a personal journey but also a testament to the untapped potential and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers. Arad says, “Refugees are not miserable victims. We are capable people, talented people with deep cultural heritage.”
Arad’s success with Persia’s Pantry showcases the value that diverse cultural backgrounds bring to Australian society and the economy.
Hope for the Future: Calls for Change
Having recently been granted a permanent protection visa, Arad expresses cautious optimism about positive change. However, he emphasises that true progress lies in the hands of the government. Arad passionately advocates for political leaders to fulfil their promises, urging them to provide a clear path to permanent residency and grant hope, security, and dignity to all temporary visa holders.
The Urgency for Reform: Empowering Refugee Communities
Arad’s story serves as a call to action for Australia’s policymakers and citizens alike. He says, “All temporary visas are designed to punish the recipient.” The current system’s divisive approach, which categorises individuals into different visa subclasses, further marginalises and exacerbates the challenges faced by temporary visa holders. Urgent reform is needed to create a fair and compassionate system that recognises the potential of refugees.