COVID-19 Spring Appeal: Help people in need

23 June 2024

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia: helping refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants in vulnerable situations living in Australia make it through the COVID-19 crisis.

Dear friends and supporters, 

In these uncertain times, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and in good health.

The COVID-19 crisis has deeply impacted the lives of refugees, people seeking asylum, and migrants in vulnerable situations. Children, women and men we serve are living in stress and anguish, as their safety and health are in more risk right now.

In the absence of any Federal Government support for people seeking asylum and temporary migrants, we have faced extraordinary demand to ensure people can eat, pay for life-saving medications, and have a roof over their heads.

Families and children are hungry,
the need for support is greater than ever.

Thanks to your generosity, JRS has been able to adapt and respond to the growing demand and continues supporting our sisters and brothers during the pandemic. Remarkably, we are seeing individuals and families who fled war, violence and persecution, returning for assistance after years of living and working independently in the community.

Many have still not had their claims for protection processed, rendering them in continued legal limbo. We are also receiving referrals from other organisations that cannot assist those that are being left destitute.

This is the case of Thalia, her husband Olivier and their four young children.

JRS welcomed this family when they first arrived in Australia. They had exhausted the little savings they brought from their home country and were at risk of homelessness. Thalia was also pregnant. JRS provided them short term financial support, food and casework support to help them get on their feet.

With JRS’ support, the family sought legal assistance for their Protection Visa application, found suitable accommodation and Olivier was able to look for work. JRS was also there to welcome Thalia and Olivier’s fourth child – a baby girl named Lyly. It wasn’t long after Lyly’s birth that Olivier found employment and the family said they no longer needed JRS’ financial support.

Fast forward one year, this family was referred to JRS’ Casework team by at least three different organisations. Olivier had lost his job due to COVID-19 and as a person seeking asylum in Australia on a Bridging Visa, he was ineligible for JobKeeper or any other Federal Government safety net. Olivier says that Thalia’s mental health is ‘bad now,’ and she is ‘crying all the time.’

The family are five weeks in rental arrears. Despite the government moratorium on evictions, Olivier is under constant pressure to pay his rent or leave the house. This family has no food in the fridge, and they need formula for their baby. They sold all of their jewellery to cover their expenses and now have nothing left to sell. The family cannot afford healthcare and feel particularly vulnerable in COVID-19 times.

Unfortunately, JRS sees so many cases like that of Thalia, Olivier and their children. Right now, JRS has an increase of 250% in people seeking emergency assistance by way of financial support and/or food. Countless clients have returned for assistance.

Your generosity and compassion keep us going.

With your generous support, JRS has been able to assist Thalia, Olivier and their four children with food, nappies, formula and financial assistance, though JRS’ resources are stretched so thin over so many individuals and families that this is not enough to keep the family’s worries at bay.

Your support has never been more important. In the last 6 months, our COVID-19 safe JRS Refugee Foodbank (pictured left) has delivered over 6,773 grocery parcels. Thanks to you, 840 people receive essential food every week.

Your support also allows us to continue providing specialist casework support, employment support, emergency payments and assisting women seeking protection who are experiencing violence. But we are not sure how long this increased need will continue for many vulnerable families and individuals.

Systemic change is urgently needed. That’s why JRS continues advocating for the inclusion of people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations to the Federal Government’s COVID-19 safety net.

As the demand for our services escalates further, our commitment to supporting the most vulnerable has never been stronger. But we need your help. With your generosity, we can  help more people who have been left behind in this crisis. Can you help us to give hope to our sisters and brothers who have nowhere to turn?

“Let us live in the joyful hope of reciprocating to our brothers and sisters, through what little we can, the abundance we receive from God each day.” Pope Francis. 

Once again, thank you for standing with those people who have been left behind in this pandemic.


In solidarity and gratitude,


Carolina Gottardo,

Director, JRS Australia 

*Names have been changed to protect identity. Read more about our COVID-19 response here. 

Carolina Gottardo
JRS Australia Director, Carolina Gottardo delivering food to people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations via our COVID-19 safe JRS Refugee Foodbank service.