Refugee applicants in Australia face major hurdles.

They have difficulty getting legal representation, because there is a limited number of pro bono lawyers in the country, and many of the refugee support groups have lost their Federal funding (funny about that). Legal Aid won’t represent them, because it has funding issues of its own.

Unrepresented refugee applicants have to try and deal with a complex legal system, in a language they may not know very well.  And the functioning of the Courts is impeded, because Judges are entitled to expect appropriate help from both ends of the Bar Table.

So here is something unrepresented refugee applicants might produce to the court, or read out:

When they appear before the Federal Circuit Court – they should read the following statement:

“I am poor. I am uneducated. I am unrepresented.

I cannot afford legal representation. I do not understand the law. I cannot run this case myself.

I face serious consequences if I do not get a fair hearing, including death, torture, persecutuon inhuman or degrading treatment and arbitrary arrest.

I ask the Minister to provide me with legal representation as ismy right under the Constitution, the common law or customary international law.

Otherwise, I ask the Court to stay the proceedings until the Minister does so.”

If enough refugee applicants say this, the message might just get through that the actions of the Commonwealth mean that life and death decisions are being made in circumstance that no-one would think fair, even though the Courts do their best.