UCA National Assembly President Dr Deidre Palmer has asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison for an assurance that people trapped in Australia without jobs because of the COVID-19 crisis receive adequate income and healthcare support.
In Thursday’s letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Palmer petitioned the government to help the more than 1.5 million people who are living in Australia on temporary or bridging visas and who are currently not eligible for support payments.
“Some of those on temporary or bridging visas work in industries that have been heavily affected by the coronavirus crisis,” Dr Palmer wrote.
“Many cannot access standard social security support, such as working age payments and disability support payments. They also are not eligible to access other government services.”
“These include many people who have applied for asylum in Australia … We ask that such people be treated fairly, especially given the current global context.”
The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) has also written to the Prime Minister to ask that asylum seekers are not forgotten.
The Uniting Church has also asked that all people living on temporary or bridging visas in Australia have access to Medicare.
“Access to Medicare will encourage them to seek medical assistance at the first sign they may have coronavirus. If such people are unable to access health care immediately or face high costs for access, they are less likely to do so, further placing themselves and the broader community at risk,” Dr Palmer wrote.
In the letter Dr Palmer acknowledged with gratitude the measures that Commonwealth and state governments in Australia have provided so far to support people and businesses who are being severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
“In particular the Uniting Church welcomes the extra $550 a fortnight payment to people receiving social security payments,” Dr Palmer said.
“These extra funds will assist the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their jobs as a result of the measures needed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and are most welcome.”
Dr Palmer signed off the letter to the Prime Minister with the assurance that: “You remain in our prayers, at this very difficult time for our country and for those who have the responsibility of leadership.”
Uniting Church members are encouraged to contact their local Members of Parliament to remind them of our duty to support the most vulnerable, particularly people facing destitution.
See the Assembly website for points that can be raised in letters to MPs and for a downloadable copy of Dr Palmer’s letter to the Prime Minister.