8 February 2018

8am

Around 12,000 people seeking asylum living in Australia are at risk of losing lifesaving services due to Government changes.

Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) are a base line support safety net that often is not enough to make ends meet, but keeps people from complete destitution.

Government changes to SRSS impact case management, income support (89% of Newstart payment amount), which enables people to pay rent, and access to specialist medical care including torture and trauma counselling.

This limited support has been standard practice for decades for people awaiting their final refugee status determination.

Among recent changes, the Turnbull government has ended a large contract held by the Australian Red Cross, a major national provider of SRSS.

The refugee sector is deeply concerned about the impact on the thousands of clients left without lifesaving support.

Refugee service organisations across the country are seeing people at their doors who cannot meet basic needs such as housing, food and access to torture and trauma counselling due to the changes to SRSS.

As the changes roll out and affect more people, a humanitarian crisis is looming. Organisations are already stretched and cannot provide for thousands more people at risk.

“The government has said that there is no gap in services with these changes, the reality on the ground is very different. We are seeing more and more people coming through our doors needing support to meet their basic needs because they have been cut off from SRSS”.

“There is no need to remove critical support; these changes will not only leave people without basic needs but will have an extremely harmful impact on the mental, physical and emotional health of people seeking asylum,” Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at the ASRC, Jana Favero said.

Joyce Chia, Director of Policy at the Refugee Council of Australia said, “Our recommendation to the Federal government is to reconsider this policy that removes vital income and forces people into homelessness. “

“Across the country we are being told loud and clear by our members, ‘these changes will be devastating, they will push people to the brink, and they are completely unnecessary’. We are calling on the government to do the right thing and reverse these changes.”

To arrange interviews or comment please call:

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) – Marcella Brassett 0411 026 142

Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) Samuel Dariol 0488 035 535