The asylum seekers, from Nauru and Manus Island, were brought to Australia last year for medical treatment. Many of them were the victims of attacks, sexual assaults, self-harm or suffering complications from childbirth. After initial treatment they were released into community detention, with most being located in the eastern states and a small number in Adelaide.
On August 28, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection issued these people with a ‘final departure visa E’, which effectively has taken away financial assistance and housing provided by the government, while providing them with the right to work. Under the visa conditions, they are obliged to return to Manus or Nauru, or their home country within six months.
Vinnies centre providing vital assistance to refugees
One of the organisers of the emergency fund, Mohammad Al-Khafaji from the Welcome Centre at Bowden described the actions of the government as “heartless”.
“It’s just pure nastiness against some of the most vulnerable people in the community,” he said.
“These people have been brought here for medical treatment… so they aren’t in a position to be able to work. For most, English is not their first language which is also an issue.”
Mr Al-Khafaji said the fund had been established by local refugee service providers and charities – including the St Vincent de Paul Society, Mercy House of Welcome, Circle of Friends, the Welcome Centre and Hope Café – as a way of ensuring the asylum seekers continued to have a roof over their head, could pay their utility bills and would have food on the table.
He thanked South Australians for their generosity to date and urged others to support the ‘letthemstay-SA’ campaign over the next few months.
For more information or to make a donation go to https://chuffed.org/project/letthemstay-sa. Food donations can also be left at the Welcome Centre, 100 Drayton St, Bowden.