Catholic Religious Australia has joined a coalition of 44 Catholic leaders who have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison advocating for support for vulnerable asylum-seekers and temporary visa holders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Refugees, asylum-seekers, temporary visa holders and migrants in vulnerable situations have not been extended government funding. The letter asks that the Morrison government provide them temporary access to a financial safety net, Medicare and adequate shelter if they are homeless.
“Whilst the Australian government has moved quickly to support many in our community in the face of the COVID-19 – and they should be applauded for doing so – these actions have shone a light on the millions in our community left to fend for themselves. Action is needed now,” CRA president Br Peter Carroll FMS said.
National executive director of CRA Anne Walker said: “Religious have always sought to protect and speak up for vulnerable people and in this instance, that includes trafficked people, victims of modern slavery, refugees, people seeking asylum, those experiencing domestic violence, amongst others. We ask the government to take more steps to support the often hidden and marginalised in our country.”
The open letter to the Prime Minister identifies two main groups of people that remain on the margins of our community and whose vulnerability to COVID-19 is heightened: the 1.5 million temporary visa holders and asylum-seekers.
Temporary visa holders who may have lost jobs during the coronavirus crisis have no access to any form of financial safety net, Medicare, temporary shelter and cannot return home. Asylum-seekers who are currently being held in detention centres across Australia and have no choice to exercise social distancing, hygiene protocols or avoid exposure to guards and service providers.
Catholic Religious Australia voices grave concern for those facing COVID-19 with no safety net (Catholic Religious Australia)