Vinnies celebrates Refugee Week 2018

Refugee Week 2018 (17-23 June) is a chance to stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers across the globe and to celebrate the contributions refugees have made to Australia.

Vinnies has a long history of helping migrants and refugees. We do this both by providing services to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia, and by advocating to government on their behalf.

#WithRefugees is the theme for Refugee Week 2018 and it provides the chance to once again express our solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers.

Today, more than ever, we need a global movement to demand the safety and rights of refugees are protected. In Australia, it is the responsibility of our Government, and each one of us, to ensure people forced to flee from their homes can live with dignity and with hope.

 

RoofOverMyHead: maintaining essential support for asylum seekers in Australia

In this year's Refugee Week, a key focus of our advocacy is preventing drastic cuts to essential services and financial support for asylum seekers living in the community.

Since last year, the government has been progressively narrowing eligibility for Status Resolution Support Services (or SRSS) program. The SRSS program provides basic income support and essential services for asylum seekers living in the community.  Further changes are planned that will mean that most of the 13,000 people currently on SRSS payments are at risk of losing all income support and will be forced to rely on charities such as Vinnies for life-saving support. Many people, including families with children, will not be able to meet basic needs like rent, food, and medicine. 

During Refugee Week, the St Vincent de Paul Society will be collaborating with an alliance of community organisations to highlight the consequences of withdrawing essential support to asylum seekers, and to urge the Government to reverse its plans. This includes participating in a joint delegation to Parliament House in Canberra and contributing to the release of a report highlighting the costs of cutting off support to asylum seekers.  

Read our briefing note on the drastic cuts proposed for the Status Resolution Support Service Payments.

 

Ending offshore detention

After nearly five years of fear, violence and limbo, around 1,600 people still languish in desperate and dangerous conditions on Manus Island and Nauru.

In recent months, our own members have visited Manus Island and directly witnessed the ongoing deterioration in physical and mental health due to inadequate medical attention, degrading living conditions, and perpetual uncertainty.

We urge the government to urgently resolve the situation and provide a safe, appropriate and permanent option for resettling those still on Manus Island and Nauru. In the interim, adequate healthcare, security and other critical services must be maintained.

 

20th anniversary of Refugee Week

In June 2018, Refugee Week will reach an important milestone: 20 years of celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees. Vinnies congratulates the founder of the Refugee Week initiative, the Refugee Council of Australia, which is a small, not-for-profit organisation and relies on public financial support to continue its vital work in research, education and advocacy.

 

 

What Vinnies does to assist?

Our services include providing financial and information support to migrants and refugees, for example, through home visitation, food and financial help, visits to detention centres, and homework centres. There are also dedicated Vinnies migrant and refugee centres and committees in some states, which co-ordinate these activities and also offer information services. Our advocacy is led by the National Office and the Vincentian Refugee Network. Advocacy includes spreading the true stories of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, and writing submissions to various bodies and briefing notes on important issues of the day. For more information, read our Refugee Policy and our latest media releases.

Where do I go to find out more?

Websites: www.refugeeweek.org.au
Twitter:  @RefugeeAust
Hashtag: #RefugeeWeek2018