A new report: Cutting the Safety Net by The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) exposes a crisis of hunger, deteriorating health and homelessness as families are cut off Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS).
The Federal Government cut its budget for SRSS by 60% in two years, from $139.8 million to $56.2 million.
More than 1200 men and women have been cut off torture and trauma services, subsidised medication, casework and income support of 89% of Newstart or approximately $250 per week to cover rent and food for single adults.
Now families with children over six years old are being cut off, with 42% of recipients of SRSS under 25 years of age.
Demands on the ASRC’s housing, health, employment and food services have increased dramatically as more new people are presenting to us in crisis.
Emergency relief provided to meet increase in demand for:
- Crisis accommodation with capacity to provide no more than a couple of days of emergency relief housing funded by the Housing Establishment Fund
- Support and access to food parcels for people issued with Notice-to-vacate, VCAT hearings and imminent homelessness
- Emergency food care packs and emergency pharmaceuticals to fill the gaps
- Sleeping bags for people sleeping rough
- Every week 750 people rely on our food services, an increase from 590 people at the beginning of 2018, with children and young people increasingly facing hunger.
The ASRC’s health and intake service staff are dealing with increasing complexity of needs which significantly impacts workloads.
The ASRC’s employment program estimates that 90% of new requests for help to find work are from people who have been cut off SRSS or were never eligible, such as people arriving by plane more recently.
Compounded barriers to employment such as low level of English ability and Australian workplace experience mean many are forced into exploitative work in unsafe and abusive conditions.
CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis said: “The ASRC and organisations like us are increasingly providing emergency relief in a crisis of homelessness and hunger caused by cuts to SRSS.”
“Entire families are presenting to the ASRC with complex, deteriorating mental and physical health while at risk of homelessness.”
“People are forcibly dependent on charity rather than being able to contribute to building our multicultural country and economy, which they very much want and try hard to do.”
The ASRC is calling on the government to stop cutting families off support immediately and to restore SRSS to all people seeking asylum within 100 days of the new government.
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