Newly released Park Hotel asylum seeker looks forward to ‘new life’ after nine years in immigration detention

He ends a nine-year period of detention since he fled Iran to Australia as an asylum seeker who arrived by boat in 2013.

“I’m stuck between happiness and sadness, I don’t know how to describe it,” he told SBS News.

“But it’s good not to see the security (Australian Border Force guards) around me. I just can’t wait to start my new life.”

During the pandemic, the Park Hotel was turned into a makeshift detention center for asylum seekers and refugees who were medically evacuated from Australian offshore detention centers and brought to Australia.

The site was thrust into the international spotlight in January when world number one tennis player

in a dispute over border entry vaccination requirements.

A total of at least 18 and up to 20 were released from immigration detention centers in Victoria, NSW and Queensland overnight.

Mr Latifi said no explanation was given as to why he and the other nine people from the Park Hotel were released.

Park Hotel AAP.jpg

Inmates are seen inside the Park Hotel quarantine facility on January 6, 2022. Credit: AAP

“Nobody explained anything to us.

He said he was now worried about the remaining eight people at the Park Hotel.

“I want my friends released as soon as possible. We have been in this situation for almost nine years, so we have become like one big family. I hope they release them as soon as possible.”

Latest release of asylum seekers and refugees comes three weeks after

of immigration detention in Melbourne and Brisbane.

The federal government has declared that its

even after accepting New Zealand’s offer to resettle 450 refugees earlier this month, which was first offered in 2013.

Asylum seekers and newly released refugees are granted bridging visas that will allow them to live in the community, but without the ability to work, study or seek government services.

The Home Office said the group would receive “transitional support through the Status Resolution Support Services program, including support from social workers, housing and financial assistance”.


Chris Breen of the Refugee Action Collective said the support offered to ease the transition is inadequate.

“These are people who haven’t had a chance to work, learn skills or study for the past nine years,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to find work – and to find permanent work – when you have a six-month visa. There are also restrictions on their ability to study.”

“They’ve been inside for nine years. They need to rebuild lives, they need permanence and they need to be compensated for their time inside.”

As for Mr. Latifi, he says he is not sure what his future holds but he is determined to put the last nine years behind him.

“I have a dream and I’m going to make it happen because the situation I’ve been in for almost nine years has made me harder than anyone [other] time [in my life].

“I’m so proud of myself for making it past those few years.”

The Resource Center for Asylum Seekers said a total of 230 asylum seekers and refugees have been released from detention centers on land since December 2020.

The center is urging the release of more than 30 refugees who remain detained after being medically evacuated to Australia from offshore detention centres.

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