COVID19 and Plight of Asylum Seekers

10 April 2020 

The impacts of Covid-19 have been wide and far-reaching with many Australians facing loss of income leading to an inability to provide for themselves and their families. The Federal Government has been quick to ensure Australian citizens and residents facing hardships as a result of Covid-19 have access to income support or the Job Keeper Wage Subsidy. This however, is not the case for the thousands of asylum seekers who have lived in Australia for years waiting for their protection claims to be assessed and have been contributing to the Australian economy throughout their time here. 

At the moment, there are over 60,000 people in Australia on temporary visas who do not have access to any government support to help them through these difficult times. Some of these people do not even have access to Medicare to help maintain their health. The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) calls on the Australian government to allow people on temporary visas the same access to income support and Medicare that Australian citizens have. 

For asylum seekers in particular, the lack of any form of stability over the past few years have been grim. The government has cut funding for the Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) over the years which had significant impacts on many families. Many of the thousands of asylum seekers who have now lost their jobs or are at risk of losing them have worked in cafes, restaurants and factories for many years. Without access to adequate support through SRSS or access to any form of income support, Job Keeper Wage Subsidy or Medicare, many families will be forced into a dire situation with no way to pay rent, access the health system, provide medication for their families or sustain any quality of life.  

It is our grave concern that without adequate support from the Australian government, people on temporary visas will be brought to the streets. At the very least, all people in Australia should be granted equal access to government supports and continuous access to Medicare 

This is not acceptable in a nation like Australia and the ATC stands with our asylum seeker population, many of whom are Tamil, in demanding that Federal Government support is made equally accessible to people on temporary visas.  

For further information, please contact NSW Director for ATC, Avi Selva on 0434 395 537.