At JRS our mission is to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people. As shown in our 2017 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 2017, our team grew stronger, our incredible donors and volunteers were more supportive than ever, meaning we were able to assist over 3000 people seeking asylum, including Ahmed, Noor and their children.
Ahmed and Noor’s journey to safety with JRS
In the face of persecution, Ahmed, Noor and their three young children were forced to flee South East Asia in search of a new place to call home. Ahmed was the first to arrive in Australia, before Noor and their children followed and the family applied for protection together.
While waiting for his family, Ahmed’s visa expired, so, once they had applied for protection, he was granted a bridging visa, but without the right to work. As Noor’s application for protection was made before her tourist visa expired, she received a bridging visa with work rights.
Yet somehow, the children didn’t receive a bridging visa at all. While their parents were legally allowed to stay, and one parent was allowed to work, the children’s tourist visas were about to expire meaning they would be living unlawfully in Australia.
The family were initially referred to JRS as they were in financial hardship and were unable to apply for government-funded Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) payments. They were ineligible for SRSS because Ahmed had sent money to his family while in Australia, to support them. The family’s legal and casework needs were complex and Ahmed and Noor were incredibly worried for their children.
Ahmed and Noor had been told by Immigration it was not unusual for the children to receive their bridging visas separately. Noor was on the phone to Immigration most days without success, they told her she would just have to wait.
JRS contacted Immigration on the family’s behalf and Immigration explained that, because the parents were born in different countries, the children were not able to apply for a protection visa without first applying for an intervention from the Minister for Immigration. You would be forgiven for thinking that this is overly complicated, the system is complex enough to navigate even when English is your first language.
Whilst the children were waiting for the Minister to allow them to apply for protection, they could not be granted a bridging visa. This meant they were unable to attend school or have access to Medicare for well over a year.
JRS continued to assist the family to advocate with Immigration regarding the children’s bridging visas and also helped Ahmed to apply for the right to work to support his family. While the family waited, JRS provided financial assistance for two months until Noor got a job to support the family.
After a year of waiting, the children were finally allowed to apply for protection and were granted bridging visas. JRS staff were privileged to receive hand drawn thank you notes and photos of the children who started 2018 school year with huge smiles on their faces!
A year of achievement
- Over 3000* people seeking asylum served by JRS this year. 239 people supported with financial assistance.
- 87 people assisted with work readiness and employment support through our new ‘Empowered to Work program’.
- 96 people assisted with accommodation support
- 80 legal clinics run at Arrupe Place in partnership with Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS). 1863 people have attended these sessions.
- 281 English classes were held.
- 900 people had access to fresh food and essential items through our foodbank.
- 43 Cooking Together meals shared.
- 72 amazing volunteers donated their time in 2017 to ensure our work could continue.
- Every minute, more than 24 people are forcibly displaced. Only 0.0002%… of these people are resettled in Australia per year.
*People seeking asylum includes single adults, couples and families with children
Year at a glance
- January 2017 TAFE fee waiver for refugees and people seeking asylum came into effect
- March 2017 Stronger Communities Funding from the City of Parramatta Council for Empowered to Work (run with House of Welcome and Cumberland Council funding)
- March 2017 New JRS Director, Carolina Gottardo, joins the JRS Australia team
- August 2017 Fr Tom Smolich SJ, director of JRS International and Fr Bambang director of JRS Asia-Pacific visit JRS Australia and Launch of the Parramatta Diocesan Strategy – Walking with Refugees and People Seeking Protection
- September 2017 City of Parramatta Council awards JRS with the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls Grant
- October 2017 New staff members join JRS’ team and the asylum and refugee component of the Bookends project with the Jesuit Province of Australia begins.
- November 2017 Launch of the NSW Humanitarian Hub a joint project between JRS, House of Welcome, Asylum Seekers Centre and Refugee and Advisory Casework Service (RACS)