Australia: new survey sheds light on plight of asylum seekers amid pandemic


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Asylum seekers in Australia are going through a difficult time as they face high levels of homelessness and financial hardship amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. A survey by Jesuit Refugee Services and the Translational Health Research Institute (THRI) at Western Sydney University highlights the need for ongoing income support for them as they try to find suitable employment.

By the editor of Vatican News

A recent survey by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia and the Translational Health Research Institute (THRI) at the University of Western Sydney has drawn attention to the plight of asylum seekers amid the Covid pandemic. 19.

Many of them face “considerable financial hardship and high levels of homelessness in the first twelve months of the pandemic,” a JRS statement said.

Of the hundred or so people questioned asking for asylum and living mainly in the west and south-west of Sydney ”, 55% of those questioned had experienced some form of homelessness since arriving in Australia, 9% of those questioned had slept on the street, in a car or in other makeshift accommodation. , and 14% had stayed in emergency accommodation.

Asylum seekers are hit hard

In 2020, the Australian government declared a moratorium on evictions, however, 29% of those polled said they had been evicted or moved from their accommodation due to their inability to pay their rent. Much of this is because many asylum seekers are in cash-paying jobs and therefore find it different for them to demonstrate the loss of employment to landlords.

Dr Elizabeth Conroy, senior researcher at the University of Western Sydney and co-author, said these findings “underscore how much more frequent homelessness experiences are for asylum seekers compared to the general population. And provide “potential new perspectives on homelessness and deprivation” which deserves further consideration in public policies.

The survey data also provides insight into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the financial situation and housing stability of asylum seekers: 36% of them said they had difficulty paying their rent and 34% to pay their electricity and gas bills every 12 months. Even more, 45% said they had run out of food in the past three months.

Need ongoing income support

Nishadh Rego, Policy and Advocacy Officer at JRS Australia, said: “These results show that a significant number of asylum seekers in West Sydney were living in situations of poverty and homelessness even before the start. of this last confinement. Our experience shows that the difficulties of putting food on the table, paying rent and buying medicine have intensified over the past month. “

‘Lockdown or not,’ he continued, ‘there is an urgent need for the federal government to provide all those seeking security in Australia with access to continued income support if they fail to find secure employment. and sustainable “.

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Julio V. Miller

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