After the Government’s $185 million press conference on Christmas Island last month, the announcement of the 2019/2020 federal budget has delivered yet another blow with more cuts to support services for people seeking asylum and newly settled refugees.
Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) spending has been reduced from the $139.8 million spent in 2017-18 to $52.6 million in 2019-20.
As winter approaches, the ASRC is once again preparing for the growing humanitarian crisis caused by changes to SRSS eligibility and funding which has left thousands facing destitution – without access to medication, food and in so many cases leaving people homeless. Since these changes began coming into effect in 2018, it’s only gotten worse, with more people, including families, now impacted.
The situation for those cut off from these vital support payments is dire. The loss of as little as $39 a day (the equivalent of 89% of the Newstart allowance) has already forced people to seek out the support of non-Government agencies such as the ASRC.
Sherrine Clark, Director of Humanitarian Services said, “For the first time in our 18 year history, we have acquired sleeping bags for people to use if they need to sleep rough as the demand for our housing program skyrockets. We can’t meet the demand, and I am appalled to have to see families with children sleeping rough.”
The 2019/2020 budget also contains a $77.9 million cut to employment support services. Employment support services that are designed to aid those who have fled war and persecution to rebuild their lives and start fresh in their new home.
Although the Government has defended this move, the purported savings suggest that the Government anticipates less people seeking asylum utilising these vital settlement services.
Unfortunately , the $77.9 million saved in this controversial move will not be reinvested into already insufficient and inadequate Government services for the same people that they are taking vital support services from.
In a few short weeks just as the harsh Melbourne winter approaches thousands of already vulnerable people have no idea where their next meal is coming from. Some are already sleeping rough – many more are wondering how much longer they can keep a roof over their family’s heads.
Rest assured, we’ll continue to be fearless in the face of whatever comes the way of people seeking asylum. It’s our independence and your support that allows us to do so.
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