Australia's change to visa cancellations for 501 deportees doesn't go far enough, advocate says

A refugee advocate says the Australian Government's changes for 501 deportees don't go far enough. 

On Tuesday the Government said it will now consider how long someone has lived in Australia when considering whether to cancel their visa. 

Currently, visas can be cancelled on character grounds if people have served more than one year in prison. However, Australia's immigration department has signed off on a new directive that will come into effect from March 3.

A Government spokesperson told Newshub the Department of Home Affairs must now "consider the length of time someone has lived in the Australian community as one of the primary considerations when determining whether to cancel someone's visa."

When a deportee's application is being looked at they will now consider the impact on family members in Australia, with more weight being given to the ties their children have with the country.

Not only that but the "strength, duration and nature" of their ties with the Australian community will be taken into account.

The new rule says "considerable weight should be given to the fact that a non-citizen has been ordinarily resident in Australia during and since their formative year, regardless of when their offending and level of that offending began".

However where individuals "pose a risk to the community", Australia will continue to cancel their visas and remove them.

Deportee advocate Filipa Payne told AM's Melissa Chan-Green the changes don't go far enough. 

"It's fantastic to see some movement in section 501 with the amendment. Unfortunately, these changes do not go far enough," Payne told AM on Wednesday. 

"The fact of the matter is, there are plenty of people who've already been deported that have got huge family ties in Australia. 

"But where it's changed is that this has gone from a consideration to a primary point. So it's wonderful that children and families affected in Australia and Australian citizens are now going to be held in consideration. However, the mandatory detention that's still in place… why do people have to go to a detention centre to have their visa checked? Why is it mandatory to be placed in a situation where you're going to be under torture and treated derogatory and demeaningly? Why is Australia still maintaining that it can?" she questioned. 

Payne said the rules should have been changed a long time ago and people who have already been deported should now be given the chance to apply to re-enter so they can see their families. 

She added the clause allowing people to be deported if they pose a danger is also problematic. 

"This is where it becomes quite hard because this is where they're using a common sense approach. So someone who's doing the appeal process cannot sit down and state, 'I've been in Australia since I was two, I've lived here for over 17 years. That means I've met a requirement where I'm actually going to be allowed in Australia'. This is about a person that's going through the visa process, living in hope that the person that is doing their appeal is going to think their common sense is valid," she said.