Four months of lock down have demonstrated the importance of being digitally connected to the outside world. Such connection requires access to the internet, but also to laptops, I-pads, phones and other devices.
For many refugees, people seeking asylum, and migrants in vulnerable situations who have lost jobs and have been excluded from Federal Government welfare assistance altogether, laptops are far too expensive a commodity to purchase, despite their outsize benefits.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, JRS Australia has been working on addressing the digital divide, exacerbated in recent months by social distancing requirements and closure of public spaces such as libraries that provide connection.
Since September 2021, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia has run a drive to source and deliver laptops to refugees, people seeking asylum and temporary visa holders in highly vulnerable situations across Sydney.
Thanks to our donors and partners at Sydney Catholic Schools, Woolworths, Colin Biggers and Paisley, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and ASC, we are distributing more than 80 laptop devices in coming weeks.
These laptop devices will enable families and individuals in vulnerable situations to access meaningful work and training opportunities and to stay connected with family and friends in Australia and abroad.
Ali, who has already received a laptop device, said “it is very important for me to have a laptop otherwise I will not be able to continue my studies and apply for work. Before this, I used to visit my local library to access a device, which was good but still limited my usage. Now I can study for much longer, and apply for more jobs in a day.”
JRS Australia provides trauma-informed casework to families and individuals who are facing multiple barriers to safety, financial stability and wellbeing. Through the Finding Safety project, JRS Australia also provides specialist prevention and response services to women on temporary visas experiencing violence.
The devices will also enable women, children and all of beneficiaries of our services to access video appointments with JRS Australia caseworkers, doctors and mental health professionals, and other services.
Access to these devices will support the inclusion of refugees, people seeking asylum and temporary visa holders in the broader Australian community.
JRS Australia is grateful to all our partners and donors for their support in this initiative.