Catholics In Coalition for Justice and Peace

Blog Post

Funding cuts threaten safety of asylum seekers

Posted 4 May 2018 05:00PM

 

The latest Federal Government withdrawal of financial, case work and trauma counselling support to thousands of people seeking asylum will threaten the safety of many who reside in our community.

The House of Welcome asks us to open ourselves to the human stories behind the statistics.

Stories like Issa's:
Issa* and his wife and their young child fled their country and sought the protection of Australia in 2013.  While the Australian Government processed their claim, they participated in community activities and supported themselves through Issa's full-time employment.  This enabled the family to rent in the private rental market, cover utilities, transport and essential living costs. 

Issa sustained an injury in 2017, and was forced to leave his position at work.  At this time, the family were also expecting their second child.

The Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS), provided by the government, became a crucial financial sercurity net for Issa and his family.  But then, the Federal Government made retrospective changes and withdrew that support.

The family could no longer afford their rent, they incurred debt, were at risk of homelessnes and had medical costs that couldn't be addressed.  They lacked adequate food and were placed at-risk of ensuring the ongoing wellbeing and safety of their unborn child.

The family turned to the House of Welcome (HOW) for urgent support.  We were able to advocate for the family and negotiate a payment plan for the arrears.  We immediately moved the family into accommodation through our HOW Safe Place program and our Case Workers ensured access to FoodBank and financial support.

With thousands of people being exited from SRSS in the coming months, we are expecting many more families like Issa's to need our urgent assistance. We estimate as many as 3,000 additional people in Sydney will be relying on the support of services like HOW.

What will House of Welcome do to support those affected by the funding cuts?
While our services are already stretched, we are doing what we ensure that basic needs can be met.  Our aim is to get people employed as quickly as possible and keep them safe with access to nutritious meals. 
We are:

  • Directing the resources we can into our employment program, aware that the sooner we can assist people into employment the greater the chances we can divert homelessness, hunger and exploitation.
  • Attempting to increase the number of beds we can offer to keep people safe.
  • Ramping up food drives so we can provide emergency relief.
  • Fundraising to ensure we can provide emergency financial relief and assist to cover medical costs.

 

How can you help?
These changes will have a massive impact. We are well aware that we cannot do this alone.

Can you please help us?
There are a number of ways to get involved:

Please click HERE to donate what you can today.

  • A gift of $400 will cover the rent for one family of 4 for a week
  • A gift of $200 will provide a family of 4 with food for a week
  • A gift of $80 will cover medical costs for one person for a month.
  • Organise a food drive or fundraiser within your workplace, school, community or church group
  • Contact us to talk about either arranging a HOW representative to talk at your local community, school, workplace or church group; or ask us for some talking points so you can raise awareness on our behalf.
  • If you are an employer or know someone who may be able to help to provide work opportunities, please contact us.
  • Organise a group and visit your local MP to make sure they are aware of your concern.
  • Sign the petition calling on Malcolm Turnbull to reverse the cuts.
  • Volunteer with us.

 

Thank you for supporting the House of Welcome.  To find out about some of the highlights of the year so far, including the launch of our new Catering Social Enterprise, please click HERE to read our winter update.

 

With much appreciation for all you do,

Lyn Harrison
Chief Executive Officer
St Francis Social Services - House of Welcome

*A pseudonym has been used to protect Issa's identity.