From June, a significant number of people living in the Australia community while they wait (many of them, for more than 5 years) for the government to make a decision on their application for protection/asylum will have support services cut.
Status resolution support services (SRSS) provide a living allowance – usually 89% of Newstart allowance, or $247 per week – casework support, assistance in finding housing, and access to torture and trauma counselling. The Department of Home Affairs has made clear that amongst those to incur this withdrawal of support will be people seeking asylum who are studying full-time – and The Guardian has reported that some of these people are young adults who came to Australia as children, graduated from high school in their new communities and won scholarships to Australian universities – so they will be forced to abandon their studies.)
Joyce Chia, of the Refugee Council of Australia, said the consequences for those people seeking asylum were “completely terrifying”.
“We are already hearing of people self-harming, we’re hearing of people losing housing, of huge levels of depression and anxiety,” she said. “This is a crisis in the making and of the government’s own making. They are going to punish these people – and some will be driven over the edge.”
Jana Favero, of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said the government’s withdrawal of support was counter-productive.
“The impact of the government cuts to income support is very real. People won’t be able to afford rent or to feed themselves and we are seeing this at our doors more and more each week. … People studying English will be forced to stop. Parents training to get a job to support their family will be forced to stop. … It’s chaotic and confusing. The government is actively stopping people from contributing.”
The government’s reasoning is that work rights have been restored to almost all bridging visas and those who are “job-ready” should be obliged to work. A document from the Department of Home Affairs indicates that families and individuals experiencing “financial hardship” will still have access to SRSS. However … “if an adult chooses to study full-time, when they are able to work, they are not eligible for SRSS income support.”
These conclusions, though, don’t account for the many people who cannot work because of significant mental and physical health issues or because they are carers of young children. Or that those who want to work find it difficult to find jobs because of a lack of Australian experience, references or networks, or that language barriers and uncertainty over their bridging visa can make them less appealing to employers.
As many Australians find, too often
the DESIRE to work and/or
the NEED to work do not equate to
BEING OFFERED work and
HAVING THE CAPACITY TO UNDERTAKE ALL JOB REQUIREMENTS
Who of us doesn’t know someone who wishes they had employment but the hurdles are too great for them to surmount? Chronic health issues, family/carer obligations, lack of extended experience in a specific field or specific qualifications …
YET AGAIN, it seems that they key decision makers in our governments have no practical understanding of edicts passed down from on high. People in positions of power have been privileged enough to become our representatives in parliament but they have no capacity whatsoever to relate to the real lives of those who have not had the same opportunities, those who have been burdened with challenges that could affect any of us.
You can access further information about the circumstances of people seeking asylum and refugees on the READ page/s and via posts listed on the NEWS page.
But if this news has compelled you to EMAIL EMPATHY,
please go to the WRITE page
and then the SEND page
to encourage our politicians to ensure that policies match the reality of the lives of thousands of vulnerable people.