St Vincent de Paul urges COVID-19 protection for asylum seekers

Reading Time: 3 minutes
A refugee prays in front of an image of Christ in a makeshift church in a camp called “The Jungle” in 2015 in the port of Calais, France. (CNS photo/Stephanie Lecocq, EPA) See REPORT-FREEDOM May 3, 2016.

The St Vincent de Paul Society is urging the Federal Government to extend available payments and support to people seeking asylum and those on Bridging Visas in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thousands of people on Bridging Visas have no access to any form of financial support, even when they have no other income,” said The Society’s National Council President Ms Claire Victory.

‘Homeless Jesus’ is pictured in this July photo of the bronze sculpture that sits in front of a downtown Washington building occupied by Catholic Charities of the archdiocese of Washington. Photo: CNS/Chaz Muth

Many Bridging Visa holders have lost employment out of the economic turmoil caused by COVID-19 but are also barred from social security nets  like Centrelink and Medicare available for the wider community. No doubt, the consequences of this will be disastrous if not addressed.  

A pandemic unprecedented in our life-times

The Society’s efforts in raising awareness for this come in tandem with those of the Refugee Council of Australia.

Even in a time when self-isolation, supermarket hoarding and incidents of “roll rage” are on the rise, we see also signs of communion and hope, says Director of Parish 2020 Daniel Ang. Photo: Christopher Corneschi/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0
“A pandemic of this nature, unprecedented in our life-times, brings great uncertainty and fear for all of us, but especially the people most vulnerable in our society,” said the Refugee Council of Australia on their website. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons of Australian supermarket emptied by panic buyers during COVID-19

“A pandemic of this nature, unprecedented in our life-times, brings great uncertainty and fear for all of us, but especially the people most vulnerable in our society,” said the Refugee Council of Australia on their website.

“The Society supports the Refugee Council of Australia’s call to the Australian Government to extend COVID-19 supplementary payments and Medicare to those seeking asylum,” said Ms Victory.

we are big enough to show compassion

Despite the challenges facing this country, we are big enough to show compassion and provide meaningful support to this particularly vulnerable group of people in our community.”

Archbishop Fisher with St Vincent de Paul Society represenatives – Sydney President Mr Tony Cranney (left) and NSW President Mr Peter MaccNamara (right) PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli 2019

The Society nonetheless welcomed recent advancements in welfare made by the Federal Government to provide better security to struggling Australians displaced by the recent crisis.

If you know any friends, family or parishioners seeking asylum or are on Bridging Visas visit the Refugee Council of Australia website for information and support. 

For information for all those on Centrelink during COVID-19 click here for a comprehensive information sheet provided by Economic Justice Australia.

If you are feeling distressed because of COVID-19 call Lifeline on 13 11 14 and speak to someone now

Related Stories:
Catholic healthcare workers on the COVID-19 frontline
Across Europe, churches offer empty facilities to help fight COVID-19
Cruise ships and Covid19 compassion in a pandemic
Catholic Weekly launches new Digital Edition during COVID-19 pandemic