SOS for Asylum seekers (Circle 121) helps asylum seekers in SA living with no income due to being deemed ineligible by the Federal Department of Home Affairs for any form of social security and who have not been able to find work, or sufficient work to make ends meet, a situation exacerbated by Covid.
Many of these asylum seekers have been in Australia since 2012/2103 but still possess temporary bridging visas only: some have had their refugee claims refused; some are still waiting for a decision; some are following limited avenues for appeal, which can take years. Importantly, the legal process which has led to the decisions to refuse refugee status, together with the limited appeal rights, has been criticised as lacking in natural justice and procedural fairness.
The other group of people seeking asylum that Circle 121 helps are those people who have been released into the community after having spent years in detention on either Manus Island or Nauru, followed by community detention in Australia. Most of these people have now been released into the community, but have no access to any form of social security. While permitted to work, they are not allowed to study. They hold temporary bridging visas only.
It is extremely hard for all these people to find work, or sufficient work: they often have poor English, qualifications are unrecognised, re-training is prohibitively expensive, they lack local work experience and contacts, their age can count against them, and some have serious physical/ mental health problems. Possessing only a temporary visa is also a major obstacle.
The jobs they do find are mostly casual and insecure and are the first to go during a crisis like Covid. This cohort of people has no ‘back-up’: they live in rental accommodation, have no savings to speak of, and lack an extended family/ network to rely on in hard times.
We provide financial support to these people by providing a modest living allowance and help with rent and utilities. If no support is provided, these people are at genuine risk of homelessness and destitution.
We also liaise closely with other Circles of Friends and agencies helping asylum seekers in South Australia, in order to maximise our impact on the lives of those in need. In particular, we focus on collaborating with other agencies that have employment programs specifically designed for refugees/asylum seekers.
If you would like to make a donation, please do so through our secure GiveNow page or email Henrietta Wighton.