Anuj and his family fled their homeland in fear of their lives in 2013. They came to Australia in August of that year, seeking refuge in our country. They were first placed in detention and then, on the 15th of January, 2015, were released into the community on bridging visas while they awaited the processing of their refugee visa application.
They lived a happy, peaceful life, doing their best to integrate into Australian society, with Anuj securing work and his children starting school. In June of 2015, their third child was born. However, one week later, the family's hope of a happy and safe new life came tumbling down. The father was arrested by police on charges which he categorically denied. After his arrest, his bridging visa was cancelled and he was placed in prison to await trial. He remained there until the 23rd of September 2016 when the charges against him were dropped.
Had criminal charges not been brought against him, there would have been no obstacle to Anuj remaining in the community and he would have been granted a refugee visa in due course. However, despite the charges against him being dropped, the fact that he had been accused of a crime, changed his status in the eyes of the Australian Government. On the same day that he was released from prison, he was taken to the Adelaide Immigration Transit Accommodation where he has remained till this day, separated from his young family.
Anuj has had legal representation to deal with his criminal charges. As these charges were dropped, according to the law, he is considered innocent of any crime. He also has had legal representation with his immigration proceedings, all the way to the High Court of Australia. However, despite the High Court upholding Anuj’s case, the Immigration Assessment Authority has still refused to revisit their decision upholding the Immigration Minister’s original decision not to grant a refugee visa to the family.
Our local church pastors have personally assisted the family to find legal representation and supported them through all of this difficult time. They currently face an uncertain future and with the family being separated for so long, it is inexplicably difficult for the couple and their children. It affects their education and cripples their everyday life. Two of their children are attending school and the second to last child, kindergarten. Once every two weeks, the family visits Anuj for two hours at a time. Since the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have been in place, they have not seen their father.
We have been informed by the court that Anuj’s next hearing will be on the 26th of May, 2020. Unfortunately JusticeNet has also informed us that they can’t find a lawyer to take his case on pro bono. We have spoken with a lawyer who helped in October with the appeal. The initial fee for a barrister to look at the case is $2,000, and if the Barrister sees it possible to succeed then it could cost up to $15,000. If not, then there is no chance for the family to stay. Anuj and his family would have to return to their former country, uncertain of their safety.
Our local church feels that God brought Anuj and his family here for a reason and our members have helped in supporting Anuj's legal cost to date. However, our limited resources and the current urgency of Anuj's case calls for wider help to fund this final appeal. With less than three weeks until his final hearing, financial help for legal fees is needed immediately.
If you are moved to help toward the legal expenses for Anuj and his family, please give. This is a family who needs your help.
Anuj and his family thank you for your prayers and support.
- Gary Southwell