People seeking asylum are some of the most vulnerable in our community.
While they wait for the outcome of their protection claims, some people have no work rights, no income or healthcare and no access to safe housing.
Uniting welcomes and supports people who have lost everything. Our Asylum Seeker Program provides aid, care, education and training, social activities and practical support to people while they endure the process of claiming protection.
“When somebody lacks purpose it has a huge impact; it impacts both their mental and physical health,” says Amanda, a Uniting asylum seeker case worker.
“Even though we are powerless to give visas or change policies, we are able to value people. We get to say, ‘your life is important and your safety is important’.”
The program includes the Welcome Centre in Brunswick, an essential safe space for people who have been through harrowing ordeals. They can use the computers, attend an excursion or English class, ask for advice or just socialise and build friendships. The visitors regularly cook and share meals, learning about a range of cultures and cuisines from each other.
The program also runs a specialised intensive case support service where those most in need can access safe housing, Myki cards, living allowances, food parcels and material aid.
Uniting Church congregations are an essential part of our service, providing free or low-cost housing, service locations and material aid.
The Asylum Seeker Program is not government funded and relies on the ongoing generosity of supporters.
“I was talking to one lady and she said, ‘I can’t believe people reach into their own pockets and they support us’.
Another woman when talking about her donated housing said that she doesn’t have to be afraid anymore and she doesn’t have to sleep on the street.”
— Amanda, Case Worker