The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum is concerned that the Albanese Government has not funded the expansion of Australia’s humanitarian program despite committing to raise the humanitarian intake to 27,000 places over four years at last year’s election.
CAPSA said while the Government continues to allocate significant funding into Australia’s inhumane offshore immigration detention regime, there is minimal support for people seeking asylum and refugees living in the community. This is despite extensive calls from front-line providers for the urgent restoration of funding in order to avert chronic destitution.
The Albanese Government allocated $37 million in support for asylum-seekers, down from $300 million in 2015-16. It allocated the same amount last year but spent only $15 million because of overly restrictive eligibility criteria that leave many people in need out of the program.
This has compelled many community organisations that are heavily reliant upon donations, such as CAPSA co-convener Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia, to continue drawing upon scant funds in an effort to meet escalating needs for food security and access to essential medication and housing.
CAPSA, co-convened by Jesuit Social Services and JRS Australia, supports individuals, schools, parishes and Catholic organisations across education, health, refugee and social services in their advocacy for fair and humane treatment for people seeking asylum in Australia.
CAPSA Co-Chairs Julie Edwards, CEO of Jesuit Social Services, and Tamara Domicelj, Country Director of JRS Australia, welcomed some positive initiatives included in this Budget, but emphasised that more needs to be done to ensure that refugees and people seeking asylum are adequately supported.
“At a time of unprecedented forced displacement globally, we are concerned that this Budget creates uncertainty as to when Australia will meet its commitment to scale our humanitarian intake,” Ms Domicelj said.
“We hope that the federal Government will increase this number to 27,000 places, as promised, as soon as possible, to give more people a chance to rebuild their lives in Australia.”