- migration assistance for people seeking safety for themselves through a protection visa, or for their families through family reunion;
- general legal assistance, with a particular focus on people who are experiencing family violence or have specialist immigration matters;
- community legal education; and
- professional development through internships across a range of disciplines, from law, to human resources to communications, as well as legal and mental health training for our volunteers.
Where we have come from
Our organisation has a proud history of being a group of people who saw an injustice in how people were treated and strove to right that injustice. That passion has caused us to grow as an organisation.
When three year Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) were originally introduced in 1999 for people seeking asylum and arriving by boat, there were no services in place to assist them. Instead, they had to navigate the complex protection application system by themselves, often with limited to no English.
In response, a number of independent lawyers and community members came together to address this demand for services. A voluntary board of management was formed and volunteers started working from a small office in the city.
By 2002, the organisation had grown from a group of people wanting to help asylum seekers into an incorporated association with 1 paid employee and about 160 active volunteers. By 2006, the organisation had assisted around 850 TPV holders to obtain permanent protection visas.
In 2015, we changed our name from ‘CASE for Refugees’ to ‘The Humanitarian Group’ to reflect that we are no longer just ‘for refugees’ – we help people new to Australia from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including humanitarian visa holders, asylum seekers and people who are otherwise disadvantaged in their access to legal services.
Where we are going
Our office has increased to 15 staff and more than 400 volunteers, who have allowed us to exponentially increase our capacity to deliver services to more people.
Our services have expanded and now include:
Coming back to our roots
Recent policy and legislative changes at a Federal Government level have seen our organisation come full circle and work to provide access to justice to people who came by boat. There are currently approximately 1,500 people seeking asylum who arrived by boat between August 2012 and December 2013 and who currently live in Western Australia, who are now subject to the new, fast track assessment process to determine their eligibility to seek protection in Australia by way of a temporary visa.
Only very limited, affordable legal assistance is available to this group of people, in part due to changes to Federal Government funding in 2014. As a result, they are often forced to go through the complex legal process for apply for protection unrepresented. Without adequate legal assistance, the integrity of the visa process can be compromised, which means that people who are in need of protection are no recognised as such and are wrongfully returned to the persecution and harm from which they originally fled.
In response to this unmet need, The Humanitarian Group established the Temporary Protection Visa Project (TPV Project) to provide free specialised legal assistance to this highly vulnerable group of people.
Establishing and funding the TPV Project is also a reflection of the organisation’s roots. We can only run the TPV Project with community support. Volunteers have played an integral role by providing migration assistance and interpreter services. A number of concerned individuals and organisations within the Western Australian community have also come together to raise funds to run the TPV Project on an ongoing basis.