Ballarat refugee advocates are imploring the community to dig deep and support asylum seekers who are at risk of being deported.
Last week, the Immigration Department announced it has cut the length of time asylum seekers have to apply for protection visas from one year to 60 days.
The move could deny up to 11,000 people the ability to claim asylum.
Those waiting for a lawyer to help them with their visa application have received letters from the department informing them of the new deadline.
The change could result in many losing their right to protection or bridging visas as well as their right to work and access health and welfare services.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) described it as an unprecedented attack on about 12,000 people seeking asylum who arrived by sea to Australia between August 2012 and December 2013.
The ASRC has raised $400,000 in just five days of a 14-day fundraising campaign to pay human rights lawyers to provide legal support for more than 1,000 asylum seekers in Australia.
But they still need more help.
Ballarat Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children volunteer Maureen Riches said some of the world’s most vulnerable people were being denied their basic human rights in Australia.
Ms Riches is one of a group of women who make the trek to the Broadmeadows Immigration Detention Centre every week to visit detainees.
For years, the women have taken gifts including clothing, toys and stationary for asylum seekers.
“People in Ballarat have always been generous so we are hoping we can get some help here too,” she said. “When these refugees first arrived, they were told they couldn’t apply for asylum until they received an invitation from the government. But now, the government has turned it around and put the onus on refugees to make this application within the next 30 days.”
She said the protocols put in place by the government made it near impossible for asylum seekers to meet the requirements.Ms Riches said even when a person committed a crime, they were entitled to legal aid.
“But these people who have come here seeking safety are neither criminals or terrorists and should not be treated as such,” Ms Riches said. “We want them to be treated as we would like to be treated ourselves – with justice and humanity.”
“This is unbelievable, but it is real. It is urgent. It is happening here, in our community, right now.”
To donate to the #KeepThemSafe visit asrc.org.au or call 1300 692 772