Keep families together: Get Up Petition

Circle of Friends Australia has been supporting Mehreen since she was moved to Adelaide from Nauru to give birth to her daughter. The same daughter recently turned 3 years old and has still never met her father outside of the Kilburn detention facility where he is being held.  A recent report from the Human Rights Law Centre titledTogether in Safety reveals that hundreds of women like Mehreen have been kept separated from their families while paperwork for release of people from detention centres were ignored for two years by previous Minister for Home Affairs. Get Up has put together a petition to new Minister of  Home Affairs Karen Andrews to request families be reunited now. You can read more about this and sign petition here.

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.

Do you work with refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants who have minimal support options available to them? Baptist Care SA can help. They provide FREE emergency relief assistance to vulnerable South Australians and help meet their most urgent needs through:

  • Food hampers
  • Community Food Hub vouchers
  • PBS prescriptions
  • Bus tickets.

Concession card holders including Students, Seniors, new Australians (ImmiCard) and Centrelink clients are all welcome.

Please call or visit the WestCare Centre to make an appointment.
Contact: T 08 8118 5200
Location: 11-19 Millers Court, Adelaide
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 12 pm

Petition Concerning Long Delays in Processing Family Visa Applications

Monica O’Wheel, Chair of Circle of Friends Australia Inc. (COFA), and other members of the COFA Management Committee, have received an invitation to sign an important petition to the Commonwealth House of Representatives concerning the administrative mistreatment of permanent residents who are former asylum seekers, and their families.

Asylum seekers who have been granted permanent residence visas can sponsor spouse and dependent children to join them in Australia on a family visa. But a Ministerial Direction under the Migration Act 1958 states that the order of processing of such applications puts applications from former asylum seekers last, behind all other permanent residents and citizens. The result is that family members who are in foreign countries and will already have suffered separation for years, must therefore wait a further 8 years or more for an outcome.

So a child who has been separated from one or both parents would suffer separation during the crucial growing up years when parental guidance is so vital. Such children, on reaching Australia, will often never have seen one or both parents, or will not recognise them.

As these are family members of asylum seekers who gained refugee status, they will in many cases be living in conditions that are a risk to their lives and/or health.

It is not only those in limbo overseas that suffer. The parent(s) in Australia do also. Such separations are a major cause of the high incidence of mental illnesses suffered by asylum seekers, including those who have gained permanent residence or citizenship here.

Another effect of the directive is that children separated during high school or late primary school years will reach adulthood before the application is processed and decided, whereupon they are no longer eligible for a family visa, and will thus be separated for life.

One or more federal MPs are sponsoring a Petition asking that such visa applications sponsored by permanent residents (formerly asylum seekers) be processed in the same order of priority as applications sponsored by other permanent residents or citizens of Australia.

Please visit and sign the petition here.

(The petition is not particularly well written but it does give a good overview of the problem, and we are assured that the sponsoring MPs will be well briefed, and thus able to make a good case to the House.)