During the COVID-19 pandemic, JRS Australia remains the only a safety net for many people.

Direct support during the COVID-19 crisis 

Like many others in Australia, people seeking asylum, refugees, and migrants in vulnerable situations have lost employment since the COVID-19 pandemic began. People seeking asylum and most migrants on temporary visas are ineligible for ongoing Federal Government support. 

JRS Australia has been working closely with parishes, schools, dioceses, and civil society partners from within and beyond, to support thousands of people. 

Our Services: While pandemic-related healthcare guidelines mean that we are not able to serve and accompany people face-to-face, we are responding creatively to unprecedented demand for our services. Demand for our services has grown by 254% since March 2020. 

We are now providing specialist casework over the phone, and emergency financial support for essential needs such as rent and life-saving medications. Our food bank is now a mobile program delivering to over 300 households, made up of more than 900 people across Sydney each week. 

The JRS Women’s Space is also providing specialist case work, dignity kits and emergency relief to women at-risk of or experiencing violence. As a response to COVID-19, between March 2020-June 2020, the JRS Finding Safety Project provided additional tailored services to women and their children, including;

  • 57 occasions of direct SGBV specialized case management and/or emergency relief payments  to women in crisis situations or early intervention

  • 89 dignity kits, including sanitary pads, soap, hand sanitisers and other essential female hygiene products

  • 441 instances of psycho-social support to women at-risk of experiencing violence

  • 144 women reached through on-line and telecommunication information workshops on your rights during COVID-19

Advocating for nobody to be left behind

Throughout this crisis, JRS Australia has been advocating for people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations to receive the support they need to avoid further destitution, hunger and homelessness. 

In the last six months, JRS Australia has written and disseminated policy papers documenting the impact of the crisis, briefed state and federal government and opposition members to raise awareness of the issues, organised Catholic constituents and leaders to engage their local decision-makers across NSW, and supported schools to act in solidarity with 16,000 children seeking asylum. JRS Australia has worked closely with Catholic Bishops, NGO partners, Dioceses, Sydney Alliance, the Unions, Get Up!, and the Refugee Council of Australia to advocate for people seeking asylum directly with the Prime Minister, members of the national cabinet, and relevant Ministers. 

JRS Australia has also raised these issues in the media.

While our ‘Refugee Voices’ face-to-face school programs have been on hold and will need to shift to online sessions, JRS has been working hard to rally support through the broader community to meet the immediate needs of people affected by the pandemic, but also to shift policy that is excluding people on temporary visas from support. Learn more about JRS Australia’s response during the pandemic here. 

Need help?

Help is available to people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations. If you need assistance, please visit our Get Help page.

Image credits: Flashpoint Labs.