The list of people most affected by the current lockdowns grows by the day, but one of the most overlooked groups is the more than two million people living in Australia on temporary visas.
Most of these marginalised victims, which includes people who have applied for asylum, can’t access standard social security support or other essential government services. And, to make matters worse, they can’t return to their home countries now that almost all flights have been cancelled.
One such group are people from the Pacific working on farms under the Seasonal Worker Program. Some were about to have their visas expire which, if the federal government had its way, meant they would become unlawful citizens. They would have been placed on a Bridging Visa E, which put them at high risk of not being allowed back to Australia for three years.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of congregational members and the Synod’s Justice and International Mission cluster, among others, the Government has introduced a new visa arrangement that will allow these people to keep working and not become unlawful citizens
However, there is more work to be done to ensure people seeking asylum and those on temporary visas receive income support.
To help, we urge you to write to the federal government. For more information, or assistance with a letter-writing action, contact Mark Zirnsak at the Justice and International Mission cluster at firstname.lastname@example.org.