A call to action from a woman seeking asylum affected by COVID-19
My name is Shanika.
I am seeking asylum here in Australia and have been living here for about 2 years. I am on a bridging visa while I wait which allows me to work full time. When I first arrived, I struggled to find a job for six months, even though I have a lot of work experience. Many people wouldn’t give me a job because of my visa status. It was a real struggle.
After six months I found a job as a Beauty Advisor in a make-up retailed. I worked as a permanent part-time employee for 1 year and 3 months before COVID-19 hit Australia. I was stood down in March due to the pandemic and have been unable to return to work. Before this, I had never felt any difference between me and the other people I worked with. I have always been treated equally by my managers and fellow employees, and my visa status has never mattered.
I felt a huge relief when I first hear about the JobKeeper payment – I would have some support and a job waiting for me after COVID-19. But when I saw the eligibility, I was so upset and disappointed to know that I would not be included because of my visa status. During this hard time, I felt vulnerable to know that I and many temporary visa holders get no financial support from the government at this time. I have worked with the same employer for more than a year and I paid my taxes like all my colleagues. I cannot go back to my home country as the government suggests.
Not only have I been stood down and can’t access JobKeeper, but I also can’t access JobSeeker. I literally have no way to get support.
Australia has always protected me, help me to have a better future. I am grateful for all the support, freedom and love this country offers. During this hard time as refugees, we really need support to build our lives to face this situation.
Can you join me in asking Prime Minister Scott Morrison to please extend the JobKeeper and JobSeeekr payments to all people seeking asylum?
I hope we can stand with each other at this time of need. We are in this together.
Yours in hope,
Shanika on behalf of the Refugee Council team
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