Mans­field food drive dur­ing Na­tional Refugee Week

Mansfield Courier - - OPINIONS/PEOPLE -

DUR­ING Na­tional Refugee Week, Rural Aus­tralians for Refugees (RAR) Mans­field is or­gan­is­ing a food drive.

Col­lec­tion boxes will be placed in IGA and Food­works and at the schools be­tween June 17 and June 23.

RAR is ask­ing for do­na­tions of tinned toma­toes, tinned tuna, bas­mati rice, chick peas, sweet and savoury bis­cuits, and dish wash­ing de­ter­gent - all of which will be for­warded to the food­bank at the Asy­lum Seeker Re­source Cen­tre in Footscray.

The na­tional pres­i­dent of RAR, Marie Sell­strom, said that the Fed- eral Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs has changed the el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria for sup­port which is cur­rently ac­cessed by ap­prox­i­mately 13,000 asy­lum seek­ers most of who live in Sydney and Mel­bourne.

Ms Sell­strom ex­plained that some 7500 of the latter look likely to lose their ben­e­fit of about $250 a week, mean­ing these peo­ple now face los­ing their homes and will strug­gle to make ends meet.

They will also lose ac­cess to tor­ture and trauma coun­selling.

The af­fected peo­ple are asy­lum seek­ers who ar­rived in Aus­tralia in 2012-2013.

Ms Sell­strom said for ap­prox­i­mately three years they were de­nied the right to work.

They were led to be­lieve that their ap­pli­ca­tions for pro­tec­tion would be re­solved by June 2018, but now it is pre­dicted that they will have no cer­tainty about their fu­ture un­til 2020.

Most of them do not have the right to work, how­ever, find­ing a job with only a tem­po­rary visa and limited English is not easy.

Many sin­gle asy­lum seek­ers have al­ready lost these limited ben­e­fits, and if they can­not find work t hey are de­pen­dent on the help of refugee sup­port or- gan­i­sa­tions and church groups to sur­vive.

From June 4 this year a much larger co­hort com­pris­ing fam­i­lies with chil­dren will be given four weeks to move off these ben­e­fits.

RAR act­ing pres­i­dent, Mary Dunn, said she hoped the food drive would play a part in as­sist­ing strug­gling fam­i­lies who are af­fected by the pol­icy.

PLEASE HELP: Act­ing pres­i­dent of RAR, Mary Dunn of Mer­ri­jig, wants peo­ple to do­nate to Mans­field’s food drive dur­ing Na­tional Refugee Week.

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