MEDIA RELEASE: Everyone deserves a safety net during COVID-19

Call to use some of $60 billion to extend support to temporary visa holders, refugees and people seeking asylum

26/5/20

The Uniting Church Synod of NSW ACT and its service arm, Uniting, have called on the federal government to use some of the $60 billion incorrectly forecast for JobKeeper to support temporary visa holders, including refugees and people seeking asylum.

Around 1.1 million temporary visa holders across the country are in precarious situations as COVID-19 unfolds, with no access to JobKeeper or JobSeeker, limited access to Medicare, and visa insecurity.

Doug Taylor, Director of Mission, Communities and Social Impact at Uniting NSW.ACT said the underspent scheme provided a new opportunity for a fairer approach, “This is the time for our community to pull together and ensure that vulnerable communities are not left in destitution. Extending financial support now will strengthen our ability collectively to fight COVID-19.”

Moderator for the Uniting Church NSW and ACT, Rev. Simon Hansford, said the Church wants to see a just approach, “Our faith calls us to speak and act for the most vulnerable of our community, our economy. Temporary visa holders play an important part in our society. Many of them have lost jobs and are unable to live in a sustainable manner.

“JobSeeker and JobKeeper were designed to help our community survive the significant economic and social impacts of COVID 19. Excluding Temporary Visa Holders is false economy, which puts more pressure on charitable and other community services. It is unsustainable,” he said.

“I ask the government to give serious consideration to extending JobKeeper and JobSeeker to temporary visa holders so we can all live and work together, uniting our communities to face this challenge, and making everyone stronger as a result.” Rev. Hansford said.

“Every dollar we spend on vulnerable and disadvantaged people now will save many more dollars for our health, justice and education sectors down the track,” added Mr Taylor.

For more information, please contact:   

Steph O’Connell (Uniting Church Synod of NSW/ACT) 0439 600 312, stepho@nswact.uca.org.au   

Belinda Noble (Uniting NSW/ACT) 0457 568 938, media@uniting.org