Supporting Refugee Education for 19 years

The St Ignatius Refugee Education Circle (Circle 106) was established in early 2002 and has operated continuously since then. The members focus on helping refugees and asylum seekers gain educational qualifications to enable them to lead dignified lives and to join the Australian workforce in jobs that allow them to support their families appropriately.

This year, we have funded requests from 8 students. As always the needs of the students they support is varied with the most recent funds spent on reimbursements to scholarship holders for Student Amenity fees, two computers, fees for university entrance exams, two sets of TAFE level fees for Certificate courses and help to one student to meet the requirements for field placement in a Human Movement degree.

After the COVID closure last year, we were able to resume our Mothers’ Day Flower Stall again this year.  We enjoyed convivial community participation as we gathered on Saturday morning to make donated flowers and greenery into posies and arrangements for sale. We included a cake raffle that continued the flower theme and handed out thumbnail sketches showing how funding helps students.We are grateful to all you participated in this event.

Until May, the requests this year have been minimal. Recently other refugee services have become aware that we are again in a position to fund more student requests, resulting in more referrals. To fund the increased level of referrals for assistance the St Ignatius Refugee Education Circle will hold an appeal in our Parish community over the weekend of 24-25 July.

Contributions to St Ignatius Refugee Education Circle help students like B.

B, oldest son of a family of eight, arrived from Syria on a Permanent Humanitarian Visa. With assistance from our Refugee Education Fund,he completed a training course in Security Operations and to the delight of his family he is now employed and getting on with his life.

To support education for refugees and asylum seekers donate via our secure Give Now page with reference of Circle 106 or fill in our donation form and return by email.

Rapid Response for Refugees Circle May Appeal

Since January, 30 new referrals for assistance have come to the Rapid Response for Refugees Circle (Circle 110) from AMES Australia, Red Cross, STTARS (Survivors of Torture & Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service), ARA (the Australian Refugee Association), Royal Adelaide Hospital Mental Health Unit, Hutt Street Centre and other Crisis Services supporting refugees and asylum-seekers experiencing homelessness or domestic violence. In addition, four families need significant ongoing support, another has been re-referred and two single men have been referred for further help. Given that the Rapid Response for Refugees Circle is run by just two volunteers this is a busy workload and it has placed a strain on our funds.

We each spend at least two hours a day dealing with emails, phone calls and so on to consider requests, check, set up and organise approval of any payments. Each referral is carefully screened to ensure that there is no other option, such as any of the Government funded agencies, for assistance before committing Circles of Friends funds. As a volunteer run and largely donor funded organisation we are aware that our funds are limited and need to be spent judiciously.

On top of this sourcing and collecting or shopping for items needed can take half a day. Bedding is all new or good quality and freshly clean when delivered. Similarly for clothing. Delivery is usually a 60-90minute journey one way. Bills and major shopping excepted, costs of undertaking this work are part of our gift. This way we can ensure that 99% of all donations goes directly to refugees and asylum seekers with remaining 1% going to cover unavoidable Bank and Give Now fees and Insurance payment.

Unfortunately, the money Rapid Response for Refugees Circle (Circle 110) currently has in credit will not last the month. With winter approaching there are already many calls for warm bedding and clothes from people who arrived in Adelaide at the end of 2020. This week alone this Circle spent $328.50 on warm quilts, bargain covers and blankets for 3 adults and 3 children.

This amounts to this Circle requiring funds of a minimum of $1,780 for the month of May. You can help by making a tax-deductible donation now.

Your donation will help in funding bedding to keep people warm this winter and to keep the people in housing, food and necessary medicines. If you can support one of our families or individuals in need please contact us via our downloadable donation form.

Our ongoing commitments include:

  • $50 per week to help support a woman with 3 children, known to Circles for several years, with school lunches and petrol. Multi-agency support is needed including coverage of rent and Utilities by St Vincent de Paul, food and other help from Red Cross. They have no Visa.
  • $170 per week to help with food and housing for a Sri Lankan man who has no Visa
  • In conjunction with Blackwood/Hills, $275 a fortnight to assist a couple with a baby where the husband’s health means he is currently unable to work
  • Pharmacy costs of between $100 – $200 per month for a lovely family from Syria, hampered by physical disabilities but still doing their best to earn
  • In addition to a current Red Cross payment of $100, a further $100 per week for accommodation and food for a young Iraqi man without a Visa, also known to Circles for several years.
  • Other costs include one off provision of winter bedding.

A minimum total of $1,780 for the month of May (most of which is ongoing costs).

You can help by making a donation to:

  • Cover the cost of bedding:
    • $99 each for two warm washable quilts (for double beds)
    • $24.99 each for two quilt covers
    • $20 each for three single quilts
    • $8.50 each for three single quilt covers
    • $7 each for three throws (small blankets)
  • Accommodation and Food: Band together to cover one of the individuals and families above for their monthly costs or make any one off donation to help keep families in their homes with adequate food.
  • Pharmacy: Band together to cover /contribute to Pharmacy costs for the Syrian family.

If you can help in any way, small or large, please donate now via our secure online GiveNow page or download and fill out our Donation Form and return by email or post.

Successful Appeal: Help a widow attend her husband’s funeral

With help from Hazara community members and other Donors, this appeal has been funded.  Thank you all who contributed.

In 2017 at the age of 43 an Hazara man from Afghanistan, living in rural South Australia, was diagnosed with late stage colorectal cancer which proved unresponsive to treatment. Early in 2018 clinicians were able to stabilise his illness enough for him to meet his wife and three children in Pakistan. On his return to South Australia and theirs to Afghanistan, they applied for tourist Visas to visit him. These were denied on the grounds they were unlikely to return.

Before a visa for his wife to travel alone was granted he died. This man was in Australia on a temporary protection visa which did not allow him to sponsor his family to join him. As a result he spent the last years of his life in safety but separated from his wife and children. His dying wish as stated in his Will was that his wife would at least be present at his funeral in South Australia.  His Hazara community will organise his funeral and host his widow. However they need to raise around $2000 for her air fares. Any contribution will be deeply appreciated. You can make a donation for this appeal via  our secure GiveNow webpage. When making your donation please specify that donations are for Circle 115).

From Bad to Dire

At this moment, particularly in Adelaide metropolitan areas, many refugees and asylum-seekers in living in South Australia have no income and are unable to meet the basic costs of living – rent, power, water and even food.
Several are families with young children transferred to Adelaide from Nauru in the past 6 months and living under Community Detention Orders.  They have health care entitlements but no work rights, are forbidden to earn income in any form and may not volunteer without Department of Home Affairs.
Others, who arrived by boat, have access to Medicare but  zero Centrelink income, regardless of their family situation, after a double refusal from the Department to their application for protection.  While legal support is largely provided pro bono and final Appeals to the Federal Circuit Court &/or Federal Court are made, this situation often continues for many months.  Only temporary visas for 3 or 5 year visas are available at best.
People on Bridging Visas have work rights but are often unemployable due to workers  having only temporary visas, poor physical and/or mental health, no car, caring for young children, and/or insufficient English.   They receive Medicare and 89% of Special Benefit – about $35 per day for a single adult with no children.
A Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) allows up to 5 years to work, study or both in a designated geographical area.   Holders can access Centrelink between jobs, but if they accept benefits for more than 18 months they forfeit the right to an avenue for a more substantive visa.  The payment stops immediately when full-time study is undertaken leaving holders with no income on which to actually live.  Employers may be reluctant to take on staff who may be only here short term; some seeking work are unemployable for reasons of health, access to transport, English language and skill limitations.
Temporary Protection Visas, a Refugee or Humanitarian Visa also provide 89% of Centrelink Benefits.  Adult children sponsored by family members on Humanitarian visas for Family Reunion receive no Centrelink payments for two years. If the applicant for family reunion unexpectedly falls ill and is unable to work, the extended family is suddenly in a dire situation with a single Centrelink income to provide for many more people.
Many people seeking help from COFA  have been battling for protection for 5 – 8 years and have run out of options and frequently have no savings to call upon.  Circles 110 (Rapid Response), Blackwood/Hills and Willunga are under particular pressure to provide assistance.  Almost every week workers at STTARS (Survivors of  Torture and Trauma Assistance & Rehabilitation Service),  Red Cross and similar Services, seek help for people who have no money and need financial support, sometimes for months until their situation is resolved.
You can help support vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers by making a donation to Circle of Friends via our secure GiveNow webpage. Alternatively if you would like to do a EFT Transfer email us for our bank details.