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Government cuts will leave future citizens with no hope

Date published: Friday 15 June 2018

Category(ies): Media release

The Federal Government’s imminent cuts to supports for people seeking asylum will leave these future Australians destitute, says Baptist Care Australia, the peak body for Baptist community service agencies.

“A significant number of people receiving support from the Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) program will be granted asylum and become a permanent part of Australian society.

“Withdrawing support from people who may be pregnant, single parents, studying or nearing retirement age will just send them into destitution. They will be solely reliant on struggling charities for food, accommodation and medical help,” said Marcia Balzer, Executive Director of Baptist Care Australia.

“This will compound the trauma and suffering for people who have already experienced more than most of us will see in our lifetimes. It’s in everyone’s interests for future Australians to be treated well and supported while they make their transition.

“Today we’ve written to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Home Affairs asking for common sense to prevail.

“Instead of cutting the small amount of support we provide people seeking asylum, the Government should ensure decisions are made more quickly so people can start the next step of their lives with certainty,” Ms Balzer said.

Baptist Care Australia member organisation, Baptcare, runs the Sanctuary program in Melbourne. It offers transitional supported accommodation for about 126 people seeking asylum every night. It also offers employment support, case management and spiritual care.  Sanctuary residents are empowered to transition from crisis to independence.  

Baptcare’s Operations Manager, Housing and Homelessness, Jason Perdriau, has seen firsthand what losing this vital support means for people.

“Every night, Sanctuary provides housing and support services to 126 people who would otherwise be homeless,” Mr Perdriau said.

“Baptcare has been providing housing support to those seeking asylum for the past 10 years. Cuts on such a large scale will increase the level of homelessness beyond the scope of support the community services sector can provide.”

People like Mamadou* have already experienced life without SRSS support. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mamadou is a qualified engineer with work and study rights. To obtain employment in his chosen field he saved funds and with Sanctuary support, enrolled in an industry-specific short course to bring his skills to the level required for employment in Australia. Since losing his SRSS income, Sanctuary has continued to support him with accommodation, donated food, MYKI top-ups, and help to secure casual work including factory and labouring work. Mamadou is determined to overcome the insecurity and hardship of his visa application process, to make a positive contribution to the Australian community.

ENDS

*not his real name or country of origin