In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic the government has announced several measures to support people during this time. We analysed them to see if people seeking asylum are eligible to access support.
People seeking asylum are those who have applied for protection visa with the Department of Home Affairs and are waiting for the outcome. They are normally on a Bridging visa during this time.
Refugees are people who have been granted a permanent or a temporary protection visa. They do have access to Centrelink payments. This post only deals with those who are currently seeking asylum. It is estimated that there 16000 people currently seeking asylum in Australia.
COVID supplement and access to social security payments
People who are already receiving Centrelink payments such as Jobseeker payment (former Newstart) will now be getting an extra $550 per fortnight in addition to their payment. Residency rules apply to qualify for this payment and people on bridging visas are not eligible.
A one-off $750 Corona virus supplement is given to a selected list of eligible Centrelink payments. People on bridging visas are not eligible.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis that we are all dealing with at the moment. Yet some members of our communities find themselves in much more difficult and precarious circumstances. People seeking asylum in their majority are not eligible for Centrelink payments and many do not have access to Medicare. Many are in casual employment and are losing their shifts. LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum and refugees in addition to health and financial stress often cannot rely on their ethnic communities or families for support. Pandemics like this exacerbate already existing inequalities and create even more barriers to access financial, legal, social and health support.
The list of resources below collates support and materials available for LGBTIQ+ people from asylum seeking and refugee backgrounds. It is a living document and will be updated regularly. If you wish to add more materials to the list, email us at queersisterhood [at] gmail.com
People seeking to access service, please contact them directly, as many do not provide face to face appointments but can talk to you over the phone.
for LGBTI peer support and referral contact QLife Australia 1800 184 527 (6pm to midnight) and qlife.org.au (3pm – midnight, everyday)
for counseling about sexual assault, domestic and family violence call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), 24/7 phone and online services;
for crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14;
for support and information for women with disabilities download Sunny app;
for family violence support for LGBTIQ people and families contact the w|Respect After Hours Helpline on 1800 LGBTIQ (1800 542 847), (Mon – Friday 9am – 5pm; Wednesday 5-10pm; Saturday and Sunday 3pm – 10pm)
for support for children, teenagers and young people up to 25, content Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800;
for support for men, contact Men’s line on 1300 78 99 78.
Refugee Women Organising: Identifying protection needs, building solidarity, working towards solutions
Presented by Tina Dixson (refugee co-sponsor, PhD Candidate ANU) and Renee Dixson (PhD Candidate ANU)
In many countries, for LGBTIQ people fear for their life is a daily experience. 30% of UN member states legally discriminate LGBTIQ people, in 11 countries death penalty is in place.
Violence against LGBTIQ people is committed by many actors including families. When we die, no one mourns. When we survive and get protection in other countries, it is for the first time that our lives are recognised as valuable.
In our country of origin, Tina’s and I were under constant threat of violence and death even before we began working as human rights defenders. Once we became visible advocates for the rights of LGBTIQ people, we came to the point in life where violence could no longer be endured. In order to survive we had to flee.
Unlike other refugees, LGBTIQ refugees cannot rely on the support from our ethnic communities due to prevalent homophobia and risks of further violence. Many refugee support services treat refugees as a homogenous group not addressing how age, gender and other diverse backgrounds impact on their protection needs. For many LGBTIQ refugees such a lack of support heightens their isolation, worsens their mental health and increases instances of suicidal thoughts. We have witnessed so many cases when LGBTIQ refugee women were placed in mixed gender housing and where other tenants chose to be homophobic towards them and to bully and abuse them. Without a response, this drives LGBTIQ people into homelessness and thus increases risks of SGBV.