Common Grace member Christine Morris reflects on how her desperation at the experience of people seeking asylum in Australia drives her to action.
Common Grace has signed an open letter to the PM with 186 other justice organisations to ensure #NobodyLeftBehind, ensuring people seeking asylum, refugees and other vulnerable groups are included in COVID-19 responses.
Excerpt from the Open Letter
Dear Prime Minister,
Nobody Left Behind: Ensuring people seeking asylum, refugees and other vulnerable groups are included in COVID-19 responses
We, the 186 organisations listed below, write to you to urgently address the gaps in the current COVID-19 responses and ensure that nobody is left behind.
We welcome the Australian Government’s recognition of the needs within Australia and its action to minimise the health and economic impacts of the global pandemic. We need to ensure that all people in Australia are considered in COVID-19 policies and stimulus packages, especially the most vulnerable who currently are not able to access basic levels of support. Currently, there are highly vulnerable groups who have been left behind, including:
• People seeking asylum on bridging visas
• Temporary visa holders including refugees, temporary migrant workers and international students
As Australia and the world suffers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clearer than ever that how we treat the most vulnerable in our society directly impacts the health and wellbeing of all of us. If anyone is left destitute, with no access to affordable medical help or unable to minimise the risk of catching the virus, all of us are at greater risk.
COVID-19 does not discriminate, and neither should access to a safety net or improved assistance during this time. We are in this together and there must be support for all who need it, regardless of visa status.
We ask you to lead the Australian Government to ensure that all people in Australia are protected from the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 by:
1. Ensuring all people have access to medical treatment and Medicare for people seeking asylum
2. Ensuring all people have a financial safety net so they are not forced into destitution:
a. Extend JobSeeker to people on bridging visas currently ineligible for income support
b. Extend JobKeeper to temporary visa holders so that businesses employing them can continue to operate
c. Remove penalties for Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) holders accessing Special Benefit in light of the pandemic and remove restrictions on accessing Special Benefit for Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or SHEV holders who are studying
3. Preventing people from losing legal status and access to support