Wyndham City is among 22 councils across Australia, representing more than 2.7 million people, that have come together to try to ensure that people who have fled persecution do not suffer homelessness and destitution as a result of federal government cutbacks.
Wyndham locals are being urged to back their neighbours, their mates, and their coworkers in a new campaign aimed at reversing, modifying or slowing cuts to a federal government scheme that has helped thousands of people transition to new lives, into jobs and to become key members of communities across Australia.
Earlier this year, the federal government outlined a plan to cut support from up to 7,000 people who had come to Australia fleeing war and persecution.
The scheme provides payments to asylum seekers living in the Australian community while the federal government finalises their protection claim. It provides a living allowance – usually 89 per cent of the Newstart allowance, or $247 per week per single adult – along with casework support and access to torture and trauma counselling.
The Local Government Mayoral Taskforce Supporting People Seeking Asylum is co-ordinating the campaign.
Chairperson Cr Roz Blades said since World War II, Australia has welcomed more than 800,000 people who’ve fled war and persecution.
“These people have contributed to our communities and our country on every level, from our culture to our sporting traditions, from medicine to the law, from science and research to our global reputation for excellence in the culinary arts,” Cr Blades said
“The cuts to the support program are out of step with community expectations.”
“In the wake of the shock election result in Victoria, we call on all Federal MPs – Labor, Nationals, Liberals, Greens, minor parties and independents – to impress on their colleagues the need to reverse these unnecessary and cruel cuts.”
Wyndham City’s Cultural Diversity Portfolio Holder, Cr Henry Barlow, encouraged residents to get on board with the campaign.
“People who have fled persecution and war are our neighbours and friends, our lawyers and our doctors, our nurses and our baristas, our scientists and our surgeons, our life savers and our chefs. And often they are our family members,” Cr Barlow said.
“That is why today, we are calling on every Australian to get behind our campaign Back Your Neighbour, Back Your Mate, Back Your Colleague and back people arriving in our communities fleeing war and persecution.”
“We are calling on Australians to tell the Federal Government that we don’t need to cut the SRSS program, that we don’t need to put many people – who might otherwise become our doctors, nurses, lawyers, colleagues, friends and neighbours – out on the streets.”