Uniting Church members help secure funds for vulnerable migrants

Uniting Church members help secure funds for vulnerable migrants

Calls to assist at-risk migrants during COVID-19 continue after Uniting Church members helped secure $6 million for Red Cross emergency services through a Sydney Alliance campaign.

The Alliance’s lead organiser David Barrow said last year’s Federal funding win would not have happened without the hard work of the Uniting Church community.

Uniting Church and Uniting members sent over 50 different emails to MPs.

Mr Barrow said the funds will go a long way, but it is still not enough to keep vulnerable migrants not covered by JobKeeper and JobSeeker from a point of destitution.

“Homelessness, suicide, sexual exploitation, and domestic violence have been recurring stories of what is being experienced by those our government has excluded,” he said.

“The most vulnerable people need access to time-limited, reoccurring payments that will help them get back on their feet and be able to secure employment again.”

A report commissioned by the Refugee Council of Australia estimates up to 14,000 people seeking asylum and refugees could become homeless due to COVID-19.

The Alliance has trained organisers as part of this campaign, including Chaitra Hareesh who is now living in accommodation she played a role in advocating for.

“At the beginning of 2020, I was working towards completing my Masters to pursue a career as business analyst, ” Ms Hareesh said. “I never thought I’d be advocating for students’ rights.”

Organiser Dianna Olmos said the government has treated international students like commodities.

“We cannot let them continue to entice us to Australia with one hand, and push us down with the other,” Ms Olmos said.

“I’ve met international students who can no longer pay their rent. They are cleaning hostels just to get a bed for the night.”

“I’ve worked to get hundreds of grocery vouchers for people on temporary visas so they can eat. I’ve watched the scale of this crisis grow by the day.”

The Sydney Alliance and Sydney Community Forum this month won a $100,000 grant from the City of Sydney to support an international student organising hub.

In 2020, the Alliance fought for $7 million in Federal funds for the Red Cross, as well as NSW Government packages of $6 million for vulnerable migrants and $21 million for international students’ emergency accommodation.

Contact Uniting Head of Advocacy, Emma Maiden Emaiden@uniting.org.au or Sydney Alliance Lead Organiser, David Barrow Dbarrow@sydneyalliance.org.au to get involved in the campaign.

Ashley Donnelly

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