Twenty-two women are walking more than 600 kilometres from Melbourne to Canberra to push for permanent protection visas for all asylum seekers living in limbo in Australia.
The women, who hail from Sri Lanka and Iran, have arrived in Shepparton in Victoria’s north after setting off on their journey on September 22.
They and their families have all been waiting for permanent visas for more than 10 years.
The majority of the group are on bridging visas, and are part of a 10,000-strong cohort waiting to hear whether they qualify for permanent protection, under the Australian government’s “fast-track” visa assessment process.
The group is also pushing for greater work and study rights for all asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.
According to ABC news report, many of the women have faced challenges while waiting to achieve permanent residency, including difficulties accessing education.
In February, the Australian federal government announced that about 19,000 asylum seekers on temporary protection visas (TPVs) and safe haven enterprise visas could apply for a permanent visa.
Last month, the government lifted Australia’s humanitarian visa intake cap to 20,000 places, from its previous cap of 17,875.
With inputs from Australian news networks