Meet Marina: Breaking barriers for the most vulnerable

February 09, 2024

Marina Camarão, an Intensive Support Caseworker at the Asylum Seekers Centre (ASC), describes herself as a problem solver, navigating through bureaucracy and barriers to provide emergency support and relief for people seeking asylum in Australia.

But for those with desperate and urgent needs, she’s a hero.

“My role as a caseworker is not only helping those seeking asylum survive, but thrive”, explains Marina. “We help people with everything from addressing homelessness, working through significant mental distress, and navigating the challenges of settling in a new country.”

In almost three years working with some of the most acute cases at the ASC, Marina has seen enough to write a book, one that would make you both laugh and cry. But one example has stuck with her throughout.

“A single mother presented to ASC with her five-year-old daughter after sleeping rough for two weeks”, says Marina.

“She had just arrived in Australia and her trauma was clear. The stress made her shiver on a sweltering day and she said that she felt cold inside. She urgently needed help. With time running out before the Christmas break, we secured accommodation with an organisation, which had a significant change in her life.

“I saw her the other day and she’s in a much better place. It’s a powerful reminder of the impact the ASC can have on people’s lives, and the impact they have on us.”

Despite having helped thousands of individuals and families over the years, Marina is clear that she’s the one that feels enormous gratitude for the experience.

“I not only hope, but wish, that the community can learn from people seeking asylum. The resilience, the strength, and the love that they have taught me is honestly something I don’t think I will ever be able to give back”, she says.

Marina, alongside her colleagues, provides support from the ASC space in Newtown. For many people seeking asylum, the Centre provides a safe haven for those fleeing danger. It is a concept Marina takes to heart and keeps front of mind.

“The Intensive Support team works with people who don’t have their most basic human rights fulfilled, that are living in an Australia most people do not want to see. Having fled danger in their own country, they confront a reality of legal limbo which leads to living below the poverty line, struggling to access food, and experiencing multiple years of homelessness.

“A safe haven means more than just solving these issues. It means a community for people to be part of, a place where they feel they are mentally and emotionally safe”, she explains.

“People seeking asylum should be able to speak up, have their rights respected and live with dignity. Just like everyone else.”

Statement from the Asylum Seekers Centre on the UN resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire A safe haven for those fleeing danger