Seeking asylum is a human right
With your help, Uniting is there to support people seeking asylum.
People seeking asylum are some of the most vulnerable in our community. Many are fleeing persecution and harm, travelling to a strange country, often at great risk, hoping for comfort and support.
People come to Australia seeking asylum. People with one thing in common... searching for somewhere they can feel safe.
"Before Uniting, I was by myself without any help, lost and confused. And now, I have been supported to get my life back on track again.”
While they await the outcome of their protection claims, asylum seekers have no work rights and no income. Accessing healthcare or safe, affordable housing is difficult. They are in limbo, without basic human rights, waiting to begin a new life.
There are currently 6,634 people seeking asylum in Victoria without government-funded services to support them. Your help is needed for vital services supporting people seeking asylum.
Why should Australia help?
Australia has international obligations to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in Australia, regardless of how or where they arrive and whether they arrive with or without a visa.
As long as an asylum seeker poses no security risk to the community, Australia is obliged to consider arrangements to welcome them into the community, rather than immediately placing them in a detention centre.
Asylum seekers come from all over the world including Iran, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan. Some are stateless, not recognised as a citizen of a country.
What we offer
Uniting’s asylum seeker programs provide essential services for people living in our community.
With support from the community, we deliver accommodation, case management and social support, as well as linkages to healthcare and legal services.
Our programs emphasise empowerment and inclusion. We encourage people to participate socially, so they know they are no longer isolated or alone.
We work together with community supporters so people feel welcome and encouraged to plan for a brighter future, offering practical tools and services.
Everyone deserves a home - Case management and housing support
Housing is a basic fundamental human right – a right to feel secure and safe, enabling people to live with dignity.
Our asylum seeker programs were established in 1997 by Uniting Church volunteers to support significant numbers of Timorese refugees. Since then, our housing support programs have expanded to become one of only three asylum seeker specialist housing services in Victoria. Uniting receives over 200 housing applications every year to house individuals and families seeking asylum.
In addition to intensive case management and housing support, we provide emergency relief, financial assistance and counselling, guidance with immigration issues, access to legal advice and referrals to other services such as employment, education, health and specialist counselling services.
Safe accommodation is a pivotal first step in establishing a new life.
Everyone is welcome
The Welcome Centre
Our Welcome Centre is a safe, inclusive space for people who may have experienced harrowing circumstances in their country of origin. Annually over 3000 visitors attend the Centre and all are welcomed.
The Centre was established following incidents that exacerbated community concern and fears about large numbers of asylum seekers entering Australia. This included the Tampa and ‘children overboard’ incidents, where media coverage incited unwarranted public fear.
The Welcome Centre is a safe and welcoming community space for people seeking asylum in Melbourne. We empower and resource people to act on their own behalf and offer activities and opportunities for inclusion and socialisation.
"I feel like The Welcome Centre is my second family. When I come in, everyone smiles and says welcome. People offer to help me, I feel so welcome here."
English, computer and creative art classes are held at the centre. A community meals program brings people together to prepare a meal, and share their their cultural cuisine with their new community. The centre also organises excursions for asylum seekers, and their families, to experience Melbourne and beyond – the beach, cinema, zoo and parks.
We offer referrals to services and provide access to practical assistance with food, material aid and transport if needed.
Over 3000 visits to the Welcome Centre every year by people seeking asylum.
Everyone is included
Special interest groups
"We come together at the Women’s Group, all from different countries, and we forget about everything. We go, we eat, we learn about things. It has given me confidence."
The Women’s Group provides a women’s only class for English as an additional language, along with a monthly gathering. Women are encouraged to network, join in their local community, and share and improve their English language skills. These activities decrease social isolation, depression and anxiety. A playgroup worker provides supervision of young children, so mothers are able to fully engage in any given activity.
This safe and harmonious space is for women from all cultures to feel at ease and enjoy each other’s company.
LGBTIQ+ peer support group
The LGBTIQ+ peer support group provides a formal, resourced platform for peer-to-peer activities and relationship building, as well as facilitating connection to the broader LGBTIQ+ community. It brings people seeking asylum together, increasing the ability for individual and group advocacy around the challenges faced by members.
Importantly, it enhances the social connectedness of members, which has led to a decrease in the high levels of depression, suicidality and anxiety within the group. It is a safe and supportive space offering advocacy and a feeling of belonging.
Your support means the world
The asylum seeker programs have been serving the community for over 20 years without sustainable government funding.
The incredible support of those who give time, energy and donations is gratefully appreciated.
Without you, people seeking asylum are more at risk of homelessness, increased isolation and further loss of dignity.