Refugees started a week-long protest to demand permanent visas on September 18 outside Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil electorate office in Oakleigh.
Many thousands of people only have short-term bridging visas and others have no visa at all.
Afifeh, who has lived in Australia for 11 years after fleeing from Iran, told Green Left: “We are here to ask Clare O'Neil to give us a permanent visa so we can have a normal life.”
Afifeh’s bridging visa gave her the right to work. Authorities recently took away her right to work, and later gave it back. It caused a lot of stress.
Afifeh has two children, one of whom requires specialist medical care. Her visa does not give access to Medicare.
She said Australia is home for her family. Her children, who are aware of the repression in Iran, are afraid of being sent back.
Milad Makvandi, who has been here for 11 years and is a heavy vehicle mechanic who pays tax, told GL because he does not have a permanent visa, he cannot buy a house.
Arad Nik, who has gained permanent residency himself but is campaigning to win the same right for others, told GL that there are 12,000 refugees who have been ignored or rejected by the Immigration Assessment Authority.
He said that they should be given Resolution of Status visas, which are permanent.
The protest continues until September 22.