Safety Net for All Asylum Seekers
"Australia is a party to a number of international treaties which are relevant to the provision of welfare to refugees and asylum seekers... Australia is obliged to ensure that people seeking protection have an adequate means of survival while they await a decision on their case" (UN 1954).
I believe in a fair go - I welcome asylum seekers
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of asylum seekers – 8000 to 10 000 – are not in detention but live in the community while their claims for protection are processed.
Community-based asylum seekers, who arrive with nothing, face unnecessary hardships because of inadequate access to basic services. Coupled with uncertainty over their refugee claims and restrictions on their right to work, this adds further harm to some of our community’s most vulnerable people. The failure in the Government’s duty of care towards asylum seekers living in the community comes at a cost not only for those seeking asylum, but for the community as a whole.
Asylum seekers who are well supported during their application process are better placed to integrate and contribute to society once granted a permanent visa, whilst those who do not have a welfare safety net are more likely to require ongoing support when they eventually become permanent residents. This results in a greater ongoing cost to the Australian community and the mental health of asylum seekers. What is needed is a well funded holistic approach to working with asylum seekers to provide an adequate level of care throughout the processing of their claims.
The key issues facing asylum seekers living in the community are:
1. Health & Vulnerability: Asylum seekers have unique and complex health issues often linked to experiences of torture and trauma. However, serious gaps remain in the provision of health care services. Not all asylum seekers have access to Government health care and the cost of health services is often prohibitive.
2. Employment & Education: Many asylum seekers have skills, experience and qualifications. They want to work or volunteer, but still face multiple barriers to accessing employment. Others don’t have the right to work or study at all.
3. Housing: Due to current housing shortages, asylum seekers face numerous barriers to accessing safe and affordable housing. Asylum seekers do not get access to public housing and very rarely gain access to transitional housing. Asylum seekers face significantly higher rates of homelessness than the national average.
4. Food, transport, basic Items: Asylum seekers have limited access to basic needs such as food, travel and material aid. There is a lack of access to: food security leading to poor nutrition; income for travel needs exacerbating social isolation; and material aid such as nappies, phone cards, baby aid, furniture, clothing, underwear, crisis packs and toys.
5. Legal Aid: The protection visa application process is highly technical and requires legal expertise in order to ensure natural justice is adequately served. Community based asylum seekers receive no legal aid. Those who are able to afford legal services can fall victim to unscrupulous migration agents who exploit their vulnerabilities.
What this campaign is aiming to achieve:
- Single Integrated Program: roll existing community-based support programs (Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme and the Community Assistance and Support Program) for asylum seekers into one streamlined income support and case management program accessible to all community-based asylum seekers who have no access to income support.
- Specialist orientation and settlement support: the Federal Government to fund specialist orientation and settlement support for asylum seekers.
- Medicare: the Federal Government to legislatively provide all asylum seekers with universal access to Medicare.
- Right to work: the Federal Government to legislatively provide all asylum seekers with the right to work.
What you can do
Donate Now - make a difference
Volunteer - get info about volunteering for the ASRC
Learn More - get the facts!
Successes so far
- Victorian TAFE access for asylum seekers: Many asylum seekers are skilled professionals, who despite having work rights do not have domestically recognised qualifications. The ASRC succeeded in gaining access to up to 300 subsidised TAFE places for eligible asylum seekers in Victoria. This increases access to appropriate training to enable asylum seekers to contribute to the Australian workforce and support themselves financially.
- Victorian Public transport concessions: Initiated in 2010 following successful lobbying, asylum seekers who are receiving aid from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Hotham Mission, or Red Cross can now access Victorian Public Transport concession cards and fares. We are the first state in Australia to offer this support.