Temporary visa holders are being neglected by the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, refugee advocacy groups have told a parliamentary inquiry.
Refugee support groups are experiencing a surge in demand for support services as those excluded from government coronavirus programs turn to them for help.
Groups including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre have detailed the economic and social toll the crisis is taking on bridging and temporary visa holders in submissions to a Senate inquiry into Australia’s response to COVID-19.
The ASRC says it alone has seen up to a “three-fold” increase in demand for its food, health and employment service.
It blames the surge in presentations on the exclusion of temporary migrants from support measures such as the government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy and JobSeeker welfare benefits for the unemployed.
ASRC director of advocacy and campaigns, Jana Favero, said the “wilful neglect” is shocking and “wholly unnecessary”.
“[These] people have paid tax for years, worked and contributed back to the economy and community, yet cannot protect themselves against homelessness, loss of legal status, deteriorating health or COVID-19 infection,” she said.
The ASRC is lobbying for the government schemes to be extended to include the 2.1 million temporary migrants in Australia, including migrant workers, international students and asylum seekers living in the community.
Source: SBS News