The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has welcomed a new NSW Government emergency support package as a much-needed response to growing destitution among people seeking asylum.
RCOA CEO Paul Power said the NSW Government was showing commendable leadership by focusing its $6 million package on some of the most vulnerable and forgotten residents of NSW.
“The announcement by Minister for Multiculturalism, Natalie Ward, is a much-need response at a very challenging time in NSW, recognising that temporary residents with no access to Federal Government income support are at particular risk during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Power said.
“People waiting for decisions on their asylum claims are on short-term visas and are often in the casual jobs which are among the first to disappear when there is any shock to the local economy.
“With no Federal safety net to rely on and often no savings, people in this situation quickly find themselves struggling to pay rent and keep food on the table.
“In putting this package together, the NSW Government has listened to the state’s frontline agencies and charities and recognised that residents of NSW should not be left behind just because of their visa status.”
Last year, RCOA commissioned economic research which found that 14,000 people seeking asylum across Australia could face homelessness as a result of COVID related job losses. Since then, RCOA has heard from member organisations around the country of stories of people seeking asylum – including families – living rough and many more on the brink of homelessness as they face crippling levels of rental arrears.
“Today’s announcement means that frontline organisations will not have to turn away people who are struggling to survive and can address the needs of the growing number of people seeking assistance since the current lockdown of the Greater Sydney region began last month.”
The package extends the NSW Government assistance for people on temporary visas announced in June 2020. Over the past 16 months, emergency packages for temporary visa holders have also been announced by the governments of Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and ACT.
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