Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) is the program that supports people who are waiting for the government’s decision on a visa application, including people seeking asylum.
The program provides a basic living allowance (typically 89% of the Newstart allowance - $247 per week), casework support and access to torture and trauma counselling. Recently most people seeking asylum have become eligible for Medicare. For those vulnerable migrants who are not, these programs may cover the healthcare cost in line with Medicare.
The Government is now in the process of taking away this vital support and unveiling a new, reduced support model of SRSS. From June 4 2018, thousands of people will be exited from the program and are expected to find a job. The only assistance they will get is access to a computer at a local employment agency.
Are you potentially affected by these changes? The Refugee Council of Australia has produced a guide to help answer your questions.
On the weekend of 14-15 April 2018, an article in The Saturday Paper reported on the story of Sadoullah Malakooti, a Kurdish widower whose SRSS support was cut by Peter Dutton. You can read the article here. We have been asked by friends of Sadoullah to accept donations on behalf of him and his family. We are collecting donations which will be passed on in full to Sadoullah and his family. You can donate here
Why is the Government doing this?
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton intends to cut the payments of people seeking asylum from June, supposedly to push those who are “job-ready” to work.
The Government claims many people receiving SRSS are "job-ready", and if it decides people can get a job, then they could lose support. They'll lose support even if they can’t get a job.
However, we also know that people seeking asylum face systemic barriers to participation in the formal labour market, even accounting for their education and English skills. These barriers include no Australian work experience or networks, short-term visas, and significant health problems after experiencing persecution. SRSS is vital to helping people overcome these barriers.
The reality is cutting support to people seeking asylum is yet another tactic being used by Peter Dutton to leave people with no choice but to return to the dangers they fled. It's refoulement by stealth.
What will this mean?
There are approximately 15,000 people seeking asylum in our community who are still waiting for the government to decide on their refugee claims. By cutting their access to services, the Government risks forcing people to become homeless and destitute. This includes families with children who are losing income support and won't be able to meet basic needs like rent and food.
People who will be affected include fathers, mothers, young people and children who are part of our schools, our workplaces, and our communities.
$247 per week is so little to live on. It is outrageous the government is even considering cutting this payment entirely.
“What are people meant to do with no income at all? How can they feed and get their children to school? As a country, do we think it is acceptable that children go without meals, education, and a roof over their head?”Cassandra Goldie, CEO, Australian Council of Social Services
What can you do?
- We have been asked by friends of Sadoullah to accept donations on behalf of him and his family. We are collecting donations which will be passed on in full to Sadoullah and his family. You can donate here;
- Add your name to the Refugee Council of Australia's petition to #ChangeThePolicy and save the SRSS here;
- Contact your local MP. Find your MP's contact details here.
The Refugee Council of Australia has put this resource together about the cuts to SRSS, including information about things you can do to support people seeking asylum at this time.