Over the past year St Vincent de Paul Society has seen a significant increase in the number of people seeking asylum who need financial support to survive while awaiting resolution of their refugee status.
For instance, in NSW, the Asylum Seeker Program has assisted over 30 people, including families, with living costs. Recent changes in Australian Government policy (including those relating to the ‘Final Departure Bridging Visa E’ and SRSS cuts) have meant that more people seeking asylum are at increasing risk of homelessness. As of March 2018, more than a third (37%) of the people supported by the Asylum Seeker Program had been sleeping rough at the time of referral, while the remainder (63%) were at risk of eviction and homelessness. The increase in homelessness and financial hardship has meant that Vinnies have started to play a larger role rather than only being called on to assist people from time to time in emergencies or because of unexpected costs.
A similar pattern is seen at the Vinnies Migrant and Refugee Centre in South Australia, as well as by Society members throughout the country as they respond to calls for assistance.
One of the major reasons that more and more people seeking asylum are becoming destitute is because the Australian Government has changed the way it administers the Status Resolution Support Service.