ACT to become a safe haven for asylum seekers

Holding hands

Asylum seekers will have much greater chance at being able to achieve permanent residency through working or studying in the ACT after an agreement was reached between the ACT and Commonwealth governments.

The agreement will now see the ACT included in the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) Scheme, which allows people who traveled to Australia without a visa to work and study in regional parts of the country. SHEV-holders can stay in Australia for five years. The ACT Government will work with the Commonwealth Government to implement the decision.

For refugees already living in the ACT, the absence of a SHEV Scheme meant that they would be required to move interstate, away from their already established support networks, friends and neighbourhoods. The SHEV scheme will give more certainty to these people who make Canberra their home and who would otherwise face an uncertain future.

The ACT Government is working with the business and community sectors to examine how refugees can be better supported to find employment. The formation of a 'community of practice' is also underway that will bring together relevant organisations to examine best practice in supporting refugees.