Part of a series of 16 stories featuring women we have accompanied through the Finding Safety Project, shared for the 16 Days of Activism.
Lamya* has survived incredible hardship.
Lamya experienced forced child marriage to a much older man in her home country, who subjected her to various forms of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
When Lamya sought asylum in Australia, she was sent to immigration detention. Lamya was eventually medically transferred to Australia after experiencing a further sexual assault.
Initially, Lamya was granted community detention and access to SRSS (Status Resolution Support Services) which offered temporary detention housing and financial support.
Lamya lived in this limbo for many years, without work rights, and awaiting visa resolution.
One day, without notice, Lamya was told her visa was denied and she was completely cut off from all support. Lamya was forced to vacate her home the very same day.
These abrupt changes left Lamya in a vulnerable position, reliant only on the Finding Safety Project to ensure Lamya was not left homeless.
But finding suitable accommodation for Lamya was difficult given her lack of visa status. Many refuges and homelessness shelters could not accept her, and Lamya’s history of SGBV had given her a well-founded fear of being in public housing with strangers.
Before accessing the Finding Safety Project, Lamya had also never been provided with counselling or other support to help her manage the mental, physical and emotional impacts of SGBV.
A specialist SGBV caseworker at the Finding Safety Project worked hard to develop a close and trusting relationship with Lamya, and was able to provide her with financial assistance for medical and other expenses. With that support, Lamya has been able to access temporary refuges, but has not been able to secure permanent housing.
Lamya is one of many people seeking asylum who feel deeply trapped and unwelcome in Australia, caught between the fear of being returned to persecution and violence in her home country, and the callousness and inhumane treatment of the Australian detention system.
In Australia, Lamya has not been able to access any of the essential building blocks that provide a person with the tools to support themselves and rebuild a life.
Lamya has now been resettled to a third country.
*name changed to protect story-teller’s identity
16 Days of Activism
JRS Australia is participating in the call to action presented by the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls. This story has been shared as part of our “16 Days, 16 Stories” Campaign for 2023, focusing on the work we do through our Finding Safety Project to support women on temporary visas who have experienced or are at risk of sexual or gender-based violence.
We sincerely hope that reading these stories, and learning more about the important work our Finding Safety Project does in the absence of any other coordinated or government support, will inspire you to invest in us, invest in the women we serve, and invest in a future where women and girls are free from all forms of violence.
Visit our 16 Days, 16 Stories campaign page to learn more.