In National Homelessness Week representatives from the Asylum Seekers Centre and other support organisations went to Canberra to advocate for people… Read More
For Anti-Poverty Week, we asked for your views on income support for people seeking asylum. The responses demonstrated an overwhelming belief that the government should do more to help refugees in our community to rise out of poverty.
Though there are more than 70,000 people seeking refugee protection in Australia, none can access Centrelink support and fewer than 2,000 get support from a special program called SRSS (Status Resolution Support Services) which offers financial assistance for those waiting on their refugee application.
97% of respondents to our survey indicated that people seeking asylum “should have means-tested income support when they are waiting for the government to process their protection application”. Respondents also provided messages for the government.
“It is not good for anyone to keep people living in poverty and anxiety about the future. Not for those who suffer the poverty, nor for those who watch it happening.”
“I believe it is our responsibility to care for those seeking asylum in Australia. We need to do this in a way that is realistic and respectful. My grandparents were immigrants to this country and I know how much they have given to it – any income support in their case would have been very well spent and returned many times over. Please be generous.”
Asked how much they think is required for a single person to live in Sydney per week, 65% of respondents said upwards of $650. At most, SRSS payments provide individuals $42 a day (which is $294 per week).
Since 2017, $209 million has been cut out of the SRSS Program. With these funding cuts and increasingly strict eligibility criteria, thousands of persecuted, traumatised people are struggling to live in Australia, left relying on under-resourced charities. Many of these people have come from offshore processing or community detention, and many are still developing English language skills, have complex health challenges, or have caring responsibilities.
“It is essential that people in Australia seeking asylum are supported financially while their claims are being examined and processed. Insecurity at that time only increases the trauma that they have already experienced.”
During the pandemic, the NSW Government has provided charities like ASC with financial relief payments for those struggling in the community. However, this support is a short-term solution to an ongoing Federal issue. Despite this, we expect more people to slip into deep poverty, as they live hundreds of dollars a week below the poverty line.
In the words of one of our ASC community, “Show compassion. People seeking asylum are here because their lives are in danger, and until they find safety, they need our support.”