Launching PARA (Palestine Australia Relief and Action) in Response to Urgent Community Need

Hundreds of Palestinians desperate to be safely reunited with family in Australia were given cause for hope in recent weeks, with the Australian Government announcing a fast-tracking of temporary visitor visas. 

The community was devastated to learn that members of Palestinian families had received communication advising that they are now “ineligible for assistance from the Australian Government” despite having already been granted temporary visas. The email, received by hundreds of applicants, said support would exclude all family members except spouses and dependent children and concluded that while it was “an incredibly distressing time for [them] and [their] loved ones”, their registration would now be closed. 

Led by Australian Palestinians, Palestine Australia Relief and Action (PARA) mobilised in a fortnight to support these families and ensure a coordinated humanitarian response that centres, strengthens, and empowers Palestinian voices. 

Alongside members of the Palestinian community, PARA urges Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong to provide greater transparency, clarity and consistency and to exhaust all diplomatic channels to give families safe passage from Gaza. 

PARA will increase its operations rapidly over the coming days and weeks to facilitate culturally informed wellbeing and mental health support, financial aid and legal advice, delivered through donations and pro bono services. 

PARA continues to call on the Australian Government to: 

  • Ensure visa holders have emergency safe passage out of Gaza and into Australia. 
  • Urgently issue more visas for Palestinians. The application process and the issuing of visas should be fast-tracked to ensure that family members of Palestinian-Australians are brought to safety. 
  • Provide transparent information and communication to the community with regard to the visa application process, the criteria and requirements, and the time it will take to issue visas. 

Quotes attributable to Rasha Abbas, PARA Founder and Executive Director 

“Who are our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, if not our immediate family? We cannot understand why our government – in the face of such a catastrophic humanitarian crisis – is not advocating for the safe passage of Australians’ parents, siblings, and families.”

Quote by Samah Sabawi, PARA Board Member 

“It is unacceptable to provide hope, granting families visas in incredibly short timeframes and then redefining the terms. People are in a state of ongoing trauma; need consistency, not confusion.” 

Quotes attributable to Reem Borrows, PARA Board Member

“We understand the challenges the Australian Government is facing, but together with charities, service providers, businesses and the wider public, we stand ready to help them ensure Palestinians can live safe, happy and fulfilling lives in Australia.”

Recent news & media

At least eight of the 12 Palestinians PARA was supporting have had their temporary visas reinstated and are now recommencing their journey to Australia to be reunited with family. They are overwhelmed with relief, including Rami, a journalist from Gaza, his wife, and three children aged two, six and ten years old.
The Palestinian-Australian community has expressed anger and frustration this week, multiple instances emerge of family members having their visas cancelled en route to Australia. Palestine Australia Relief and Action (PARA) is deeply concerned and seeking urgent clarification as to why some visa cancellations are occurring, leaving Australian family members devastated as their loved ones are being flown back to Egypt or denied departure all together.
According to non-profit organisation Palestine Australia Relief and Action (PARA), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recently emailed letters to hundreds of Australian citizens who registered their family members in Gaza for consular assistance.