Volunteers Get Behind Asylum Seekers
26 September 2013 at 10:12 am
Australia’s hardline approach to "boat people" has seen increasing numbers of volunteers putting their hand up to help asylum seekers.
The number of volunteers almost doubled at a recent information session at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in West Melbourne, with more than 300 people showing interest compared to the usual 150 to 200 people.
ASRC says it helps 1300 asylum seekers each year – in doing so it offers 235,000 hours of free help for asylum seekers, provides 22,500 daily lunches and 9350 food parcels. The centre says it has has won 204 permanent visas for Australia asylum seekers.
According to ASRC Director of Community Pillar, Jana Favero, the centre has experienced a significant increase in people wanting to volunteer this year, especially in past months.
“Most people have commented that their motivation is that enough is enough and our politicians have gone too far in a hard-line approach to the treatment of asylum seekers,” Favero said.
“They want to show their support for the ASRC and asylum seekers by volunteering.
“The demonisation and politicisation of asylum seekers has increased steadily over the past years and people have finally had enough and want to be able to take action as they are not proud of Australia's current treatment of asylum seekers.”
Currently the ASRC has more than 800 volunteers, ranging from administration officers to nurses and lawyers to database experts and kitchen staff that work in 23 programs in the four key areas of aid, community, justice and empowerment.
Programs include material aid, food bank, case-work, health services and the human rights law, and social enterprise services including a cleaning service and catering program.
Favero said the roles change from month to month and are sent to more than 1200 people on the centre’s volunteer register.
“We look for a variety of skills in volunteers, the main elements we look for are flexibility, commitment, passion and a great work ethic,” Favero said.
Despite the increase in interest, ASRC will continue to hold only four volunteer information sessions per year, with the next one to be held in February.
For more information, visit http://www.asrc.org.au/