People seeking asylum face hunger, homelessness and destitution after government cuts to income support and we desperately need your help to stop this from happening
For Fatima*, income support in the form of the Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) is essential, not only for her livelihood, but for that of her two little girls.
After escaping war to seek safety in Australia, Fatima, found herself having to escape again, this time from her husband who’d become violent. When her marriage ended so did any financial support for her and her children. She searched fruitlessly for work, and she is still looking. She survives on SRSS support to pay her rent, food, school costs for the children, and other day-to-day living expenses.
Now she is one of around 12,000 people seeking asylum and living legally in Australia who could be left hungry, homeless, and unsafe because of the government’s decision to cut SRSS.
What is SRSS and why is it so important?
Status Resolution Support Service or SRSS is a regular payment to help with basic living costs for people waiting for a decision about their refugee status and who find themselves in challenging situations like Fatima.
Drastic reductions to SRSS began last year when the government informed some individuals seeking asylum they were being cut off from any support. But new elements of the policy have now become clearer and its apparent thousands more will be affected. The government has outlined that people seeking asylum assessed to be ‘work ready’ will be required to find work in order to survive.
“What the government forgets is that people seeking asylum want to work and meaningfully contribute to society, but finding work is hard at the best of times,” says Carolina Gottardo, Director of JRS Australia.
“Forcing full-time students, single mothers, people with debilitating mental and chronic illnesses, physical injuries, limited English and precarious legal statuses into the workforce in 7-10 days is unrealistic and cruel. We are manufacturing situations of systemic poverty, destitution, and homelessness.”
What JRS is doing about the crisis
JRS can offer people seeking asylum like Fatima and her young children a temporary emergency, basic living allowance, access to our food bank, specialist casework, an employment programme, community activities and a safe, welcoming space. But we cannot offer permanent stability.
“We’re really struggling to meet the growing demand for safe, affordable, and sustainable housing, but also for basic necessities such as food, toiletries, sanitary pads and nappies,” Gottardo says. “Of course, we are all doing the best we can but with the deep impact of these cuts, it’s just not enough. JRS staff and volunteers say it’s like nothing they’ve seen before.”
Because of these cuts, the emergency assistance needs of people simply seeking safety will overwhelm crisis homelessness, mental health, and medical services, as well as JRS who provides on the ground support for these, the most vulnerable people in our society.
“SRSS cuts and the timeframe the government’s set up to implement them, does not reflect true Australian values of a fair go for all. These cuts push people to the margins and leave them destitute and hungry,” Gottardo says.
At this dire time of need, we and people like Fatima and her two little girls, are desperate for your help
- By giving $400 you will cover rent for a family of four for a week
- $200 will cover food and hygiene products for a family of four for a week
- $40 will cover travel costs for a family of four for a week
- $25 will cover medication for a single adult a week
- Donate basic necessities such as food, toiletries, sanitary pads and nappies to people accessing our food bank program.
- Host a fundraiser to raise money for JRS
Advocate for the rights and dignity of people seeking asylum.
- Share JRS’ press release, or your own message on social media using the hashtags #ChangeThePolicy and #DignityNotDestitution
- Sign share the Refugee Council of Australia’s petition calling on Malcolm Turnbull to reverse this policy or share their press release
- Call your local MP. Some key messages you can utilise can be found in Kamran’s message to Malcolm Turnbull.
- Take a group of friends and meet your local MP. This is one of the most powerful ways of influencing policy. See Caritas’ guide.
Find out more about SRSS and the risks people seeking asylum face when these income support cuts are made
The worst thing we can do as people of faith is to turn away from those in need. God asks us to show love for refugees and displaced people. He calls on us to act, to protect, to welcome and to provide for people like Fatima and her two little girls.
“For us Christians, hospitality offered to the weary traveller is offered to Jesus Christ himself, through the newcomer: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Mt 25:35). The duty of solidarity is to counter the throwaway culture and give greater attention to those who are weakest, poorest and most vulnerable.” —Pope Francis
This is your chance to make a difference for people like Fatima and her two little girls, but we must act now before it’s too late and thousands more people seeking asylum find themselves victims of homelessness and destitution. Vulnerable people seeking asylum and services providing support, like JRS, will struggle to survive this crisis without you.
*Name has been changed to protect identity