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Call for aid and refugee intake increase

AAP logoAAP 14/09/2016 Lisa Martin

Increasing the annual humanitarian refugee intake and allowing community sponsorship are among alternatives the nation's human rights watchdog is proposing to Australia's tough border protection policies.

Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs hopes some of the proposals can help shift asylum-seeker policy to a more human rights-based approach.

"Australian asylum-seeker policy has now reached an impasse," she said in a report released on Wednesday.

It was important to address factors influencing people's decisions to potentially undertake dangerous boat journeys to reach safety in order to avoid deaths at sea, the report says.

Key recommendations include:

* Restoring and expanding foreign aid to countries generating refugees in order to prevent or resolve displacement.

* Increasing the annual humanitarian refugee intake beyond the 18,750 places allocated for 2018-19.

* Developing a private and community sponsorship scheme so individuals and groups can bring refugees to Australia for resettlement and take care of the airfares and provide on-arrival support.

* Introducing a temporary visa to allow people to travel to Australia by air for the purpose of seeking asylum.

* Increasing funding to the United Nation's refugee arm which is struggling to cope with demand.

* Offering more study and family reunion opportunities to refugees.

At the end of 2015, there were 65.3 million people displaced worldwide.

The report argues abandoning offshore processing in detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island would be a major step towards ensuring Australia met its international human rights obligations.

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