Australia’s harsh and punitive policies towards people seeking protection have caused extreme hardship and suffering for these people, both for those who are currently in Australia and those who are in one of Australia’s offshore detention camps. Their situation has been made considerably worse by the COVID-19 pandemic as many of them have lost their jobs as a result and left out of any federal government support. They are forced to rely on the generous support of family and friends if possible and charities which are already stretched to the limit for food, rental assistance and other basic necessities.
Many Catholic parishioners, schools, Vinnies and social justice groups have been supporting people seeking protection in a variety of ways for years. Below is a summary of ways that in which people seeking protection still need your help. If you have already been involved, how about sharing these ideas with someone new so they can get involved too.
1. Donating food and Essential Items
One of the easiest ways to get help people seeking protection in Australia is to donate basic food items and other necessities to a foodbank that supports people seeking protection. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia, some charities have seen between a 200-300% increase in calls for basic assistance with rent food and medication. Monetary donations are always welcome and can be made through the Jesuit Refugee Service and House of Welcome websites.
The Jesuit Refugee Service Foodbank is always in need of:
- Basmati Rice
- Cooking Oil
- Long Life Milk
- Tinned Tuna, red kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas and fruit
- Biscuits and muesli bars
- Oats and Cereal
They are also in need of:
- Nappies (large sizes)
- Toothpaste and toothbrushes
- Sanitary pads and napkins
- Razors and shaving foam
- Deodorant (male and female)
For more information please see this poster and for details of where these items can be dropped off (there are collection points all over Sydney) please see here or contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (especially for large donations).
The House of Welcome Foodbank are in constant need of:
Great food items to donate include:
- Cooking Oil (750ml)
- Long Life Milk (1L)
- Canned Fish (Tuna)
- Canned Tomatoes
- Canned Chick Peas
- Basmati Rice
- Canned corn (not creamed)
- Canned peas and carrot
- Biscuits (sweet and savoury)
- Canned fruit (peaches, pears, pineapple, apricot)
- Tea & Coffee
- Honey, Jam
- Instant Noodles
- Salt, Pepper & Cooking Spices
- Packets of dry lentils (orange/brown)
Other Essential Items the House of Welcome needs are:
- Nappies (larger sizes—walker /junior)
- Laundry detergent
- Dishwashing Liquid
- Cleaning Products & Cloths
- Deodorant (men’s and women’s) ● Sanitary Pads (not tampons)
- Razors & Shaving Cream
- Toilet Paper
- Aldi/Woolworths/Coles vouchers
(Please no soup, baked beans or tinned spaghetti)
To run a food drive or to enquire what the current food shortages are; Please contact the office on: email@example.com or phone: 02 97279290
2. Employ Someone from a refugee or asylum seeking background
People seeking asylum and refugees were hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic as many of the industries they worked in (hospitality, retail, events) were particularly hard hit by the lockdown in 2020. Both the Jesuit Refugee Serivce and the House of Welcome have employment coordinators who are willing to help place their clients’ skills with a suitable job. If you or someone you know are in a position to employ someone please get in touch:
The House of Welcome has a Work & Welcome Program which assists people seeking asylum and refugees to enter the Australian labour market by providing empowering work experience and employment opportunities in supportive work environments. By providing structured, short term, paid job placements, Work & Welcome is able to address major barriers to employment and assist people as they prepare for long term employment success. For further information about the program contact Leonie Dyer – Employment Services Manager on 9727 9290 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jesuit Refugee Service’s Empowered to Work project also which supports people seeking asylum and refugees find work. In order to find out more, contact Leonie Dyer (email@example.com), Employment Coordinator, Jesuit Refugee Service.
3. Sponsorship of People Seeking Asylum
Operation Not Forgotten
Operation Not Forgotten is a partnership between Vancouver-based settlement organisation MOSAIC, Refugee Council of Australia and Ads-Up Refugee Network Canada. It is a way that enables a parish, school or group to assist people who have been in detention as a result of Australia’s punitive asylum policies is to help sponsor those who are still in detention in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, some of whom have been there since 2013. There does not appear to be any end in sight to Australia’s harsh policies so a group of Australians and Canadians have come up with a way for these people to be privately sponsored to go to Canada where they can begin to rebuild their lives and make a fresh start.
Under this program it costs around $19,000AUD for a single person and $30,000AUD for a family of four. For more information please see the Refugee Council of Australia website: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/canada/. Despite the expense, this is one of the best ways to get people out of Australia’s offshore detention camps and is cheaper than several other sponsorship options. Donations can be made via credit card throught the Refugee Council of Australia website or donations over $5000 can be made via bank transfer.
Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative
This initiative was designed for a group to sponsor individuals or families seeking protection to come to Australia in addition to Australia’s humanitarian intake. The group would need to raise enough funds to support the family materially and with social support for the first year. However, the initial idea could not be implemented and the families now come from within Australia’s humanitarian intake meaning that the pressure of supporting refugees falls to the community when it it is the responsibility of the government. It is also far more expensive than in other countries. https://www.ausrefugeesponsorship.com.au
Contact your state and Federal members to let them know you care about the dignity of people seeking protection and are willing to fight for them. Write them a letter, call their office, request a meeting and sit down, make your concerns known and they will listen to you. If you would like any assistance in this area please contact the Justice and Peace Office: firstname.lastname@example.org.