New report: People seeking asylum face enduring homelessness amidst chronic financial insecurity

20 December 2021

Related: Advocacy

Years after arriving in Australia, people seeking asylum face chronic homelessness and housing exclusion in the community, a new report by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia and Western Sydney University’s Translational Health Research Institute (THRI) has found.

The report, entitled A Place to Call Home: A Report on the Experiences of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion among People Seeking Asylum in Greater Sydney, presents findings from detailed interviews with fourteen women and men seeking asylum, exploring their experiences housing and homelessness, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Detailing participants’ housing trajectories, living arrangements and conditions, and challenges with finding and maintaining safe, secure, and adequate housing, A Place to Call Home shows how restrictions on economic and social rights associated with visa status, barriers to employment in competitive labour markets, and Sydney’s high rental prices generate conditions under which homelessness and housing exclusion become a feature of the lives of people seeking asylum.

Dr. Elizabeth Conroy, Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University and report co-author said, “many participants experienced ongoing housing exclusion, and were compelled to make decisions to stay in inadequate, insecure or unsafe housing arrangements to avoid homelessness.”

“The resourcefulness of participants was prominent in the data but so was the toll of housing exclusion on people’s dignity and agency, and their wellbeing overall.”

Nishadh Rego, Policy, Advocacy, and Communications Manager, JRS Australia said, “the findings of this report reveal just how challenging it is for people seeking asylum to maintain a roof over their heads on short-term bridging visas, which may or may not include work rights, and without any form of income support. Delays in determination, processing, and review of protection claims means that people live on the cusp of homelessness for years,”

“The Australian Government has a responsibility to ensure that people seeking asylum live safe and dignified lives free from homelessness and poverty whilst their claims for protection are being processed.”

A Place to Call Home makes recommendations of Federal, State, and local council Governments, arguing that each must play a key role in driving systemic improvements in the housing and financial circumstances of people seeking asylum in the community.

The report affirms findings from a recent survey of more than a hundred respondents seeking asylum, which found that 55% of respondents had experienced some form of homelessness since arriving in Australia.

A Place to Call Home will be launched online on Friday 10 December at 11 AM, and involves a panel discussion with Maryam, a refugee leader on a temporary visa, Dr. Eve Lester, an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow and JRS Australia Board Member, Mr. Jack De Groot, CEO of the St Vincent De Paul Society NSW, and Dr. Elizabeth Conroy, Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University, and co-author of the report.

Register for the online launch event here.

Read the full report, A Place to Call Home: A Report on the Experiences of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion among People Seeking Asylum in Greater Sydney.

Read the report summary, A Place to Call Home: Report Summary.

Read the survey findings, A Place to Call Home: Pilot Survey.

Media inquiries: Nishadh Rego, Policy, Advocacy and Communications Manager, JRS Australia: | 0403 566 800