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Asylum Seekers at Risk of Disadvantage - Report

6 May 2014 at 11:09 am
Lina Caneva
A new report claims that asylum seekers living in the community are at serious risk of disadvantage, isolation and marginalisation in Victoria.

Lina Caneva | 6 May 2014 at 11:09 am


Asylum Seekers at Risk of Disadvantage - Report
6 May 2014 at 11:09 am

A new report claims that asylum seekers living in the community are at serious risk of disadvantage, isolation and marginalisation in Victoria.

The research report, "Can You Please Help Me? How Can We Live?", was conducted by UnitingCare Victoria and Tasmania (UCVT) and aimed to provide an initial scoping of emergency relief (ER) and other support services provided by UCVT agencies in Victoria to asylum seekers.

The researchers say the report  also aimed to provide the key issues and challenges faced by agencies and the vulnerabilities and barriers faced by the asylum seekers.

UCVT said the report revealed there was a considerable increase in demand for services, which far outstripped the capacity of UnitingCare agencies to provide adequate support – be it casework, ER, financial assistance or social engagement activities.

“This report not only shows the extraordinary dedication of UnitingCare staff responding to people who have survived things most of us hope we never experience, but also suggests that there are modest policy changes which could greatly improve their lives and the health of the wider community,” Lentara UnitingCare CEO Joy Nunn said.

The report said most asylum seekers accessing UnitingCare services didn’t have the right to work and were therefore severely disadvantaged and put at risk of exclusion at their most vulnerable phase of resettlement and community integration.

It also said moreover, asylum seekers faced barriers to adequate services, for example affordable housing, education, training and meaningful social activities.

They also grappled with the issues of only having very limited financial resources and social issues such as communication barriers, social isolation and lack of integration into local communities and insufficient support, it said.

“This is of great concern as the Refugee Council of Australia has stated that in recent years the overwhelming majority of applicants (over 90 per cent) for permanent protection visas have been found to be in genuine need of permanent protection and were permitted to resettle in Australia,” Nunn said.

The report made the following key recommendations.

1. Provide adequate funding for emergency relief and material aid;

2. Provide adequate funding for meaningful engagement programs;

3. Provide additional funding for specialist staff;

4. Address communication, language and cultural barriers;

5. Provide opportunities for education, training and volunteering;

6. Grant all asylum seekers in the community the right to work and assist agencies to help with job search;

7. Build and strengthen local networks to effectively respond to emerging needs;

8. More support to find and maintain adequate and affordable housing.

UnitingCare Victoria and Tasmania is the network of community service agencies and missions within the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, and comprises of 27 organisations.

Read the full report here

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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One comment

  • Beauty777 says:

    This report again testifies why the Stop the Boats policy is much needed and supported in order to restore the law and order of territorial security and borders control, as well as integrity of Australian Migration Program, including quota set for each year for refugee intake. As long as we allow illegal maritime arrivals to come illegally and land our shore, blowing out our budgets, burning down our facilities, stirring up riots and social commotions, and also using up our resources which are supposed to be given to Aussies who are already highly disadvantaged in employment, housing, education, training, and other support services, (remember we have close to 200,000 Australians homeless, or at high risk of homelessness at any time) , we are the one facing the most disadvantageous outcomes and footing the bills of their illegal coming. Those being assessed as genuine refugees by recognized authorities must be put at the back of the queue like everyone else who comes legally and orderly, paying what is due to the government. No one is above the law, let alone asylum seekers or economic migrants.

    The more support and benefits we give to illegal maritime arrivals (all boats people claiming to be asylum seekers etc), the more incentives we encourage them to come illegally at the expense of others who have been in the queue waiting patiently for ages in the refugee camps for opportunities that they should be give them for resettlement. The government should make itself clear that they will only take in legal migration of every kind so that any illegal dealing should be brought to justice, whether it be babies, children, mothers, adults etc…No one should be favored over the others. Every country has limited capacity in resources to take in refugees and other migrants; therefore, to be fair and just to all, Australia must stamp out all illegal arrivals by boats, by air and by visa fraud etc… We must not give the wrong message to people smugglers as well as illegal arrivals that their coming to our shore illegally is welcome and gives them great rewards (rights to work, to education, to welfare, to housing etc…..) Certain welfare agencies are unwise in their bid of helping people smugglers to sell their business model.

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