I went on a visit today to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne. I have never witnessed anything like it. Sometimes we think The Salvation Army has a monopoly on doing good, and on being the only ones who serve the ‘last and least’. Well, I hate to break the news to you, but we don’t. Here is a secular organization filled with some of the brightest and most qualified people, mostly volunteering, some being paid a pittance, sacrificing their time and status to work with the forgotten and rejected (even by The Salvation Army). And their work is outstanding. They help with legal, medical, counselling, financaial, material aide, food, social and recreation, all in this amazing, friendly and non-judgemental way. The people are so humble and committed and it felt like walking into a giant family home. I loved it, and felt even more convinced that this is work that we should be supporting.
I would encourage you to check out their website, and if you live locally, to find a way you can help them out. If the Army aren’t going to do this work, we need to help someone who is.
Happy collecting everyone,
Some information you may find interesting…
Asylum seekers and refugees do not get large handouts
from the government•
Most asylum seekers in the community are not allowed to work. Any person
who takes longer than 45 days to seek asylum will be given a visa that denies
them the right to work, Medicare or an income. Also, anyone who seeks the
humanitarian intervention of the Minister for Immigration to ask to stay in
Australia must give up their work rights and access to Medicare to do so.
• The reality is the majority of asylum seekers are forced into a life of poverty
and reliance on organizations such as the ASRC just to survive as a result of
deliberate policies of destitution by our Federal Government.
• Asylum seekers want to work and support themselves but are not allowed
to. If caught working to support their family, they will be placed into a
detention centre. Asylum seekers who have no work right are not even
allowed to do volunteer work.
• Asylum seekers do not come to the Australia to claim benefits. In fact, most
know very little about how even to seek asylum in Australia or whether they
have any entitlements to government support.
• Asylum seekers do not jump the queue for public housing as they are not
eligible for public housing. Asylum seekers are forced to rely on the goodwill
of local communities, charities and churches for housing.
• Asylum seekers do not get any special benefi ts or perks. All asylum seekers
are denied access to: Centrelink, a Health Care Card, Job Network, Settlement
Programs, AMES English Classes and all Federally Funded Programs.
• Most asylum seekers are living in poverty and experience poor health and
Asylum seekers and refugees are law-abiding citizens•
Contrary to government and media depictions of asylum seekers, the vast
majority of people seeking asylum are law - abiding citizens.
• Asylum seekers are no more likely to commit crimes than anyone else.
• Asylum seekers often feel unable to report incidents of racial/sexual
harassment or violence.
• Many female asylum seekers do not go out at night due to fear of abuse and
Department of Immigration officers have the power to detain asylum
seekers, even if they have not committed any crime.
Asylum seekers are looking for a place of safety•
There is no such thing as illegal asylum seeker. Under international law,
anyone has the right to apply for asylum in Australia and to remain here until
the authorities have assessed their claim.
• Asylum seekers are not economic migrants. The top ten refugee producing
countries in 2006 all have poor human rights records or are places where war
or conflict is ongoing.
• The 1951 Refugee Convention guarantees everybody the right to apply for
asylum. It has saved millions of lives. No country has ever withdrawn from it.
• Most asylum seekers do not choose their destination country.
• Many refugees and asylum seekers hope to return home at some point in
the future, provided the situation in their country has improved.
Australia’s asylum system is very tough
• The Australia asylum system is one of the harshest and toughest in the
Western World. It’s very difficult to get asylum.