Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 942 ..
program, which raises a key issue. If the private sector is not keen to pay the high up-front costs then individuals and the community sector are likely to be even more significantly priced out.
The idea that this program seeks to save the federal government an estimated $26.9 million over four years is contemptuous. This is a considerable cost burden for the community, while for the federal government it is a drop in the ocean. For comparison, this amounts to approximately 0.6 per cent of the Department of Home Affairs’ departmental spending on border enforcement. Our local community groups can only do so much. These changes to eligibility for the status resolution support service place increasing pressure on individuals and community groups.
My colleague Ms Le Couteur and I have met with some of the organisations that work so hard to support refugees who come to Canberra. The status resolution support service criteria are not transparent, so it is difficult to determine, but anecdotal evidence tells us that if families have sent more than $1,000 overseas in the past twelve months they are not eligible for the payment. This seems to be applied to onshore applicants who may have made the payments to family back in their home country well before making an application for asylum.
Increasing numbers of families in the ACT are applying to the Federal Court to appeal the rejection of their applications, but families who appeal to the courts are then ineligible for any federal government income support. This is coupled with increasing delays in Federal Court appeals process. For many refugees the time frames for this are increasing towards two years from the time of lodging an appeal to receiving a verdict. Clearly the courts are overloaded with these applications and it is unreasonable to expect these already vulnerable people to wait out the process without any prospect of eligibility for what is essentially a safety net payment.
These are people who are trying their very best to integrate into the community and support themselves. They are seeking out employment and education opportunities and balancing family caring responsibilities for children. The experience for at least some families is that they are not able to get enough work to support themselves, are working towards qualifications to improve work prospects and are faced with other practical barriers such as going through the process to obtain a drivers licence.
Our community groups, such as Canberra Refugee Support, are endeavouring to support these families, as they have seen the contributions to the community that have been made by those who were supported over previous decades and who now have a tenacious commitment to education and loyalty to the Australian communities who supported them in their time of need. It is clear evidence of the disproportionate contribution made by our community to prop up a system that is failing some of the most vulnerable people on this planet whose only fault is being born in the wrong place at the wrong time;
In New South Wales, St Vincent de Paul’s asylum seeker program focuses on providing support to those at judicial review and ministerial intervention stages of their claims for asylum. These refugees are having to rely on charity from neighbours, local churches and community groups to meet their basic living costs. It is a shame