Non-citizens living in Australia have been stranded with no income, no housing and no way to leave the country and governments must urgently step in to give people access to the same support as citizens, Greens NSW Multicultural spokesperson Jenny Leong said today.
“International students, temporary residents and refugees are not currently eligible for the emergency government support, and as a result are facing a catastrophic situation after having lost their incomes due to COVID 19,” Ms Leong said today.
“I have written to the NSW Premier on behalf of a large cohort of people who are currently facing extremely difficult circumstances and have become very vulnerable as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need to ensure a cohesive society where everyone is treated equally and is able to live free from discrimination and racism, we need to ensure that wherever possible all people are able to access basic needs, services and supports without regard to their citizenship status. This is particularly important during times of crisis, and even more so during this current pandemic.
“Many international students who are studying full-time on scholarships at university, are ineligible for any government assistance even though the scholarship does not have an allowance attached. These students all have casual jobs which are in jeopardy.
“Refugees and asylum seekers who are on a range of different visas are not entitled to the same provisions offered to permanent residents in NSW. We support the urgent calls by the Refugee Council of Australia to allow access to Medicare and a financial safety net for all of these people.
“We also support the call to remove refugees and asylum seekers from detention centres such as Villawood which are crowded and susceptible to increased risk of COVID-19 infection.
“Backpackers and temporary residents have also lost casual jobs and are ineligible for government assistance, and are also unable to leave Australia. Many temporary residents consider Australia and Sydney their home and wish to remain but have lost their livelihoods in the past weeks.
“All temporary visa holders in Australia should be entitled to Medicare and emergency crisis housing and services should they require it during this health crisis,’ Ms Leong said.
Jenny Leong’s letter to the Premier, including more specific details, is available here: https://www.jennyleong.org/noncitizens_covid19