JRS Australia welcomes extended NSW Government emergency relief for people seeking asylum

17 November 2022

Related: Advocacy

For Immediate Release – 17 November 2022

JRS Australia welcomes the recent announcement by the New South Wales Government to extend crucial financial support for people seeking asylum by a further six months and calls upon the Federal Government to take swift steps to ensure that people seeking asylum have access to a financial safety net to avert ongoing destitution.

NSW Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure announced that $3.65 million will be provided until the end of June 2023 to enable frontline organisations, including JRS Australia, to continue providing emergency assistance to people who need help to pay rent, buy food and medicines as they await the outcome of their protection visa applications. But the Federal Government must also ensure that people in acutely vulnerable circumstances are not left facing ongoing food insecurity, homelessness and destitution.

The Federal Government’s Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS), which has provided basic assistance to people seeking asylum, has dramatically tightened its eligibility criteria in recent years, making it prohibitively difficult for many people in need to access support. JRS Australia calls on the Federal Government to urgently revise the eligibility rules for SRSS to ensure that the program is responsive to those most at-risk and confronting situations of vulnerability.

“We thank the New South Wales Government for extending critical support for people seeking asylum who are experiencing acute need, in response to a dire situation at a time of great uncertainty,” said Tamara Domicelj, JRS Australia Country Director. “Now is the time for the Federal Government to ensure that the SRSS program can actually deliver critical support to people seeking asylum in Australia, in a more predictable and inclusive manner.”

JRS Australia is witnessing a rise in severe presenting circumstances amongst those whom we serve. The NSW Government’s funding helps us provide rent, food and medical payments for people seeking asylum who are awaiting the outcome of their protection visa applications, a process that can take years. People seeking asylum are willing and mostly able to work and support themselves, but some individuals and families do not have work rights and do not qualify for other forms of social security services. Dramatic changes to the Federal Government’s SRSS program in recent years have resulted in many of these individuals and families falling through the cracks, compelling organisations like JRS to rely on their limited donor funds and NSW Government assistance to provide essential services.