How do we support Geelong’s Asylum Seekers?

Diversitat began supporting Asylum seekers in October 2012, after government funding became available. This was in response to the increased numbers of boat arrivals on Australian shores. Initially, the program was called the Community Assistance Support/Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (CAS/ASAS) program, and it was delivered through the Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES).

Through its initial assessment, the Asylum Seeker Program has provided its clients with casework support, assisting with Medicare registration, opening bank accounts, providing accommodation, orientation for local facilities, such as medical facilities, and ensuring that children are enrolled in school.

The Department of immigration and Border protection continues to fund the support of Asylum seekers to this very day, and the program is currently called the Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS). The program provides service recipients some financial support while they wait to resolve their immigration status.

In addition to the government funded program, Diversitat’s Asylum seekers program also offers the Asylum seeker Drop In and Food Bank activities. Staff members are especially proud of these two activities, as it is members of the community who help fund them, particularly through grants from local small-scale organisations, anonymous donations, as well as Food donations from individuals.  Staff members of the Asylum Seeker program feel extremely fortunate to work closely with people in the community, as many staff members experienced similar life experiences to their clients.

In the future, the Asylum Seeker Program is hoping to expand its Food Bank and Asylum Seeker Drop In service to greater heights to support asylum seekers in need.

A success story witnessed by the Asylum Seeker Program includes the story of an Asylum Seeking family who first struggled, then succeeded. When the family first settled in Australia, the father was struggling to find work, due to his lack of English-speaking skills, and the change in culture between Australia and his home country. Eventually, the father managed to find volunteer work at an op shop run by a church. He quickly gained a reputation for being an extremely hard worker. This led to him being offered a full-time maintenance position, at a local catholic school, where his three kids were attending with a scholarship. Through diligent work and dedication, the father was able to secure an amazing job position, after struggling exponentially when first arriving on Australian shores.

Seeing success such as this causes staff members to feel admiration for these asylum seekers, as they showed a great work ethic, and were able to adapt to a new culture, and ultimately, succeed.

With highly qualified and dedicated staff members, the Asylum Seeker Program will always be open to provide nothing but the greatest support and well-being for asylum seekers living within the Geelong region, whether they be SRSS clients or not.