Our 2016 annual report shows the ways JRS delivered on our mission to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people.
At JRS our mission is to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people. As shown in our 2016 Annual Report, JRS works in situations of greatest need, where people are most vulnerable, where there are gaps in services and where partnerships can be formed to better serve people seeking safety.
In 2016, our team grew stronger, our incredible donors and volunteers were more supportive than ever, meaning we were able to assist more people seeking asylum than ever before, just like Kanthi, a Tamil woman from Sri Lanka who is seeking asylum in Australia along with her family.
Kanthi* is a Tamil woman, who arrived by boat from Sri Lanka, and is seeking asylum in Australia along with her infant son and her husband.
Kanthi is constantly reminded of the trauma and violence she experienced during wartime, as she still has shrapnel lodged in her head from a bomb explosion near her home. There are painful memories, but there is also daily physical pain from her injuries.
How JRS is helping
As is the case with many of the people we serve, the circumstances of Kanthi and her family are quite complex and for a period of time the family did not have the right to work and were also ineligible for financial support through government funded services.
The family survived on savings, however, their debt was growing and when they were several weeks behind in rent, they came to see JRS.
JRS assisted the family with some emergency relief payments, however, we knew that we could not provide enough to sustain Kanthi’s accommodation. At risk of homelessness, a JRS caseworker advocated on behalf of Kanthi and her child for urgent government financial assistance.
During this time, Kanthi became increasingly distressed and desperate to solve her financial issues. She cried throughout meetings with her caseworker and regularly mentioned that it would be better if she was not living, however, knew she had to keep going for her young son.
Recognition as refugees
While there were significant barriers to having her financial assistance application approved, Kanthi and her child were eventually successful because of the advocacy and support of JRS and other support organisations.
JRS’ efforts have provided some security for Kanthi and her child, as well as giving Kanthi someone to lean on, in the form of her JRS caseworker, however, the family are still very much at-risk. This will not change until Kanthi’s husband is given the right to work and the family are recognised as refugees and granted protection.
*Name has been changed to protect her identity