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The COVID-19 pandemic calls on us to be calm, creative and practical in our response.
Clearly these are challenging times for everyone and our thoughts are with people seeking asylum, our supporters, partners, volunteers and community as we keep up with this unfolding reality.
I contacted our supporters today (Friday 20 March, 2020) and said things were changing rapidly. This has unfortunately proven to be correct.
The Board and I have made the difficult decision today that we will limit operations at the centre as of Monday 23 March, 2020.
We have seen a rapid increase in demand and crisis requirements that puts extra strain on staff, our volunteers and the regular operations of the centre.
Given new Federal Government guidelines on social distancing and indoor gathering announced this afternoon, we are being proactive to ensure the health and safety of all involved with our centre.
We are working with other services and supporters on a plan to get services and support to people remotely.
More than ever, we need your support to mobilise the community of Sydney behind people seeking asylum.
Most people seeking asylum have no safety net to fall back on in times of crisis. Very few are entitled to any welfare support or Centrelink payments. There is currently nothing for people seeking asylum in the Federal Government’s stimulus package.
Service update, effective from Monday 23 March:
- People seeking support have been contacted and invited to call the HOTLINE on 02 9078 1900 from 9am – 4pm, Monday – Friday and someone from ASC will provide information about how we can support them or leave messages at other times.
- The Asylum Seekers Centre will not be open for people to visit at 43 Bedford Street, Newtown.
We will continue to remain in close contact with the people we support to respond to their needs. We are now entering a creativity phase while we work out how to best meet the pressing of needs of people seeking asylum in Sydney.
Statement by Asylum Seekers Centre CEO Frances Rush, OAM