Media Release: ASC joins call on PM to ensure Nobody Left Behind

May 04, 2020


Monday 4 May, 2020

The Asylum Seekers Centre has joined a call from over 180 civil society organisations for the government to extend the COVID-19 safety net to people seeking asylum.

In an open letter sent to the Prime Minister today, the group outlined their concerns that 1.1 million temporary visa holders across the country are in a precarious situation as COVID-19 unfolds, with no access to JobKeeper, JobSeeker or any other government support. The broad cross-section of faith-based groups, unions and human rights organisations is calling on the Prime Minister, Treasurer and Minister for Families and Social Services to address these gaps.

“At the Asylum Seekers Centre we are seeing a thirty percent increase in new people needing emergency assistance with food, rent and bills,” says Frances Rush, Asylum Seekers Centre CEO.

“The solution is clear and urgent,” says Rush. “People seeking asylum must be supported with more than a one-off emergency relief payment. People need a regular basic income in the form of a Centrelink payment in order to survive.”

The Asylum Seekers Centre provides support and services to people seeking asylum including a health clinic, a food bank, legal support, digital connectivity, employment services and emergency financial relief and housing.

“Community organisations are not able to keep up with the level of need, much of it from people who were employed and living independent lives a month ago,” says Rush. “People seeking asylum are members of our community and living through this pandemic with us. They cannot be ignored.”

The coalition of organisations that are signatories to the open letter, including the Refugee Council of Australia, World Vision, Australian Council of Social Services, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and Australian Council of Trade Unions are responding to advice from epidemiologists and medical experts who are concerned that people who have lost their jobs and can’t access any support will be forced to choose between protecting themselves and feeding their families.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service says “Temporary migrants, including asylum seekers and international students, are being left to face destitution, without access to JobSeeker, JobKeeper or Medicare and this needs to be urgently fixed. Now more than ever we are seeing how much we rely on each other as a community and that the only way through this crisis is by working together to ensure nobody is left behind.”

MEDIA: For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Danielle Townsend on 0419 381 943 or

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