Councils sign on to help temporary visa holders
1 October 2020 at 8:13 am
There are over 2 million migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers and international students who have been without financial support during the pandemic
Local councils are being urged to sign up to a new advocacy campaign pledging financial and in-kind support for temporary visa holders, as pressure mounts on the federal government to extend income support programs to the 2 million people currently excluded.
On Thursday, Democracy in Colour and Welcoming Australia published an open letter with commitments from 14 local councils to sign a mayoral declaration to provide support for temporary visa workers.
The participating councils, which include City of Sydney, City of Hobart, and Hume City Council, have also declared an intent to support all people in the community, ensuring no one is left behind during the crisis.
While the government’s $130 billion JobKeeper package is designed to prop up workers that have lost employment during the pandemic, international students, working holiday makers, refugees, asylum seekers, and skilled temporary migrants – who are overrepresented in industries shut down during lockdown restrictions – have been left out of the program and now face destitution.
In the absence of federal support, Victoria, the ACT, Tasmania and Queensland have rolled out cash relief programs to support temporary visa holders, and a number of community organisations have stepped up to fill remaining gaps under already stretched conditions.
Democracy in Colour national co-director Neha Madhok told Pro Bono News they had turned to local councils because they were directly connected with their communities.
“We’ve exhausted as much as we can from the states, and we know that local councils want what’s best for the people in the places that they represent as well,” Madhok said.
“And when Scott Morrison and the Liberal government won’t take action, someone has to.”
She said the more councils that sign onto the pledge, the stronger the campaign’s message to the federal government would be.
“We have the power to tell the government that we are a country that should, and can, support everyone in the community during these trying times,” Madhok said.
She said they would continue to keep the pressure on the government in the following months in a bid to see change happen.
“They [the federal government] can extend JobSeeker and JobKeeper for each and every person in Australia, and they’re just choosing not to do it,” she said.
“So we will keep the pressure on until a change is made.”
Find out more information on the Nobody Left Behind campaign here.