By N24 Correspondent, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA:- Around 50 refugees detained in a makeshift Brisbane immigration detention site are being released into the community on temporary bridging visas. The group had been held in the Kangaroo Point Central hotel for up to two years and was taken by bus to the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation site in the past two days to be processed, according to the Brisbane Times.
Two others already at the site were also to be granted the bridging visas, Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Ian Rintoul said. All were expected to be initially given three weeks’ accommodation.
A spokeswoman from Refugee Solidarity Meanjin, which has been leading protests calling for the release of an estimated 120 refugees and asylum seekers from the hotel, said those left now needed “calm support”.
The releases follow the long-running protests at the inner-city Brisbane hotel, and the release of dozens more from other sites around the country after they were brought to Australia under medevac laws, so far this year.
Two others were released from the Brisbane hotel in December, with a senior bureaucrat raising concerns at an estimates hearing about the lack of federal support being provided once they were in the community.
A Home Affairs Department spokesperson did not confirm the number of men who had been released, but said they were given a “final departure bridging E visa” with work rights and access to Medicare.
“[This] allows individuals to temporarily reside in the Australian community while they finalise their arrangements to leave Australia,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said service providers had been engaged to help the men with short-term support, including case workers to link them with essential services and accommodation.
Mr Rintoul said up to 70 others were expected to be released across the country in the coming days, after 63 were released across December and January.
He said the lack of transparency from the government about the releases was causing “anxiety and stress” among those left behind, while those being released were also left with an uncertain future without the support they needed.
“Eight years of detention and human rights abuse is too long,” Mr Rintoul said. “They should all be released immediately.”
Members of the group were transferred to Australia under the now-repealed medevac laws intended to evacuate refugees with serious medical conditions to the mainland for treatment from offshore detention centres.
The Home Affairs spokesperson said all “transitory persons” had third country options for settlement and were encouraged to finalise medical treatment so they could continue on to the US, back to Nauru or Papua New Guinea, or their home country.
After the release of 45 men from Melbourne hotel detention last month, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the government had decided to do so as it was cheaper than paying for their prolonged stay in hotels or detention centres.