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.
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.
Queer Sisterhood Project is a peer-run support and advocacy group aimed to provide a space of community and belonging to queer refugee women.
The group is open to all women (based on the self-identification) who are identifying as queer (homosexual, bisexual, lesbian, same-sex attracted, pansexual) and have sought asylum in Australia because of the persecution on the grounds of gender or sexuality. Women on different stages of the protection visa application, including those who were refugees in the past and are citizens now, are welcome.
The group is run by Tina and Renee Dixson in partnership with Twenty10. At present we meet in Sydney, but we are looking to expand.
We also have an online chat for women who live in different states and territories.
Watch the cartoon ‘Being Queer and Refugee’
Download ‘Being Queer and Refugee’ brochure here that contains 30 tips for service providers for inclusive service provision.
If you are a queer woman who is seeking asylum in Australia, send us an email at queersisterhood [at] gmail.com
If you are an ally, Join us as we are building a community where queer refugee women.