We won’t leave anyone behind in a pandemic

We won’t leave anyone behind in a pandemic

While many, if not all of us will be making many changes to our lives in light of the COVID-19 situation, we must bear in mind the people who are particularly vulnerable at this time.

As the pandemic tightens its grip it is clear that thousands of temporary visa holders, including people seeking protection, are suffering deeply and need our help. “Niraj’s” story details how dire the situation is for these people.

After arriving in Australia seeking protection with his wife and 7 year old daughter in 2019, Niraj was thrilled to get a job at a restaurant in regional NSW and his family moved there to start a new chapter. Then on 25 March 2020 he was told the restaurant was closing and he would no longer have work. On 31 March their rent of $350 was due, but they only had $40 in savings and couldn’t pay it. Now Niraj doesn’t know where his family can go next and is hoping his landlord will delay the rental payment to give him time to find a new job or lend some money.

There are hundreds of thousands of others like Niraj in the Australian community who are losing their jobs. They don’t have access to a financial safety net or Medicare. Many cannot return home.

People like Niraj and his family live in our neighborhoods, work in our restaurants and factories, pray in our churches, synagogues and mosques, study in our schools and universities and pay tax.

We cannot not leave them homeless, hungry, and sick. Protection from this virus for all of us, demands we all have access to the protection of a safe home, a safety net and Medicare. Either we are all protected or we are all vulnerable – that’s the nature of a pandemic.

We have also organised an online petition for you to sign and ask everyone you know to sign. The petition calls on the Federal and State governments to extend a vital safety net – financial support, Medicare, and adequate shelter – to everyone in need within the Australian community, regardless of their visa status, during the COVID-19 pandemic. If sharing on social media, please use the hashtags #NobodyLeftBehind and #NoOneLeftBehind

For more about what the Justice and Peace Office, in conjunction with the Jesuit Refugee Service and the Diocese or Parramatta, has been doing to support this vulnerable group of people during this pandemic please read about our letter to decision makers here.