The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) has urged the federal government to extend its COVID19 safety nets, as new data shows a four-fold increase in numbers accessing its foodbank.
The ASRC has also recorded sharp increases in demand for housing, health and employment services, with people seeking asylum ineligible for Federal Government COVID19 support.
Despite one-third of those needing meals having lost their job due to the global pandemic, people seeking asylum have been excluded from JobSeeker and JobKeeper.
In August the ASRC provided:
- Food, medicines and emergency relief to 3,808 people
- Meals for 2650 people (up from an average of 650 a month pre COVID)
- Housing for an average of 382 each night (up from an average of 160 pre-COVID)
- Casework support for 646 people, including 178 children
Front line services found:
- 85% of people needing meals had no income
- 66% of people receiving medical appointments were unemployed or unable to work
The ASRC data aligns with new Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) research released last week, which reports 94% of community sector workers in migrant and multicultural services experiencing changes in their clients’ needs during the pandemic.
Both organisations are asking the federal government to urgently change eligibility requirements for Australia’s social safety net by extending access to JobKeeper, JobSeeker and Medicare to people on bridging and temporary visas.
CEO, Kon Karapanagiotidis, said, “The current policy settings are forcing record numbers into crisis services, unable to put a roof over their head or food on the table.”
“We are asking the government to extend the COVID19 safety net to people on temporary and bridging visas, who are suffering extreme hardship and have nowhere to turn.”
“These people have paid taxes and contributed to their communities, yet have been abandoned during the largest economic downturn since the great depression.”
“Extending support will ensure that we all get through this crisis and contribute to the COVID recovery,” he said.
Story source: ASRC
Sarah Jacob is a journalist and editor and is currently The Advocate's Deputy Editor. She has written for a range of print and online publications across Australia and internationally with a focus on the environment and human rights. Previously she worked in conservation science and protected area management, and has completed postgraduate degrees in journalism and marine science.