Abdullah fled Afghanistan to seek asylum in Australia in 2012. He waited five years for his refugee claim to be processed, and was then granted a five year Safe Haven Enterprise Visa. This temporary visa makes it very difficult for him to expand his business.
“I am a painter. I have my own business and I hire other people. I started the business around one year ago.
I was a painter before I came to Australia. Since arriving here, I have completed Certificates 3 and 4 in English and certificates in painting and business. I had to pay international student fees because of my visa.
If I am working at a private household, they ask me how long I have been in Australia, and I say I have been here for nine years. I never tell people I am on a temporary visa as they don’t understand.
If I apply for a bigger job, for example, like painting a new apartment building, the contractor wants information about my visa and right to work. Even though I have a visa with work rights, they do not want to give me the work as they are concerned my visa may expire.
I cannot get a bank loan to improve my business. If I want to buy equipment or a car for my business, I have to pay cash.
Being on a temporary visa has also affected my mental health. Not being able to see my family, or bring them here, makes me very sad. And now there is the terrible situation in Afghanistan. It is so hard to concentrate and I find it difficult to talk to people.”
There are thousands of young people like Abdullah working across different industries and across different parts of Australia who are in the same situation. Opening up pathways to permanent residency for TPV and SHEV holders would allow them to seek secure employment opportunities, grow their businesses, and maximise their skills, abilities and experience.