Councils join forces to advocate for asylum seekers following planned financial cuts
01 August 2018
The City of Greater Dandenong has joined with Victorian local government leaders and key support agencies from across Melbourne to advocate against planned cuts to financial support for asylum seekers.
A Mayoral Roundtable was held at the Dandenong Civic Centre today with representatives from 18 Councils from across Victoria, the Refugee Council of Australia, Monash Health and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
Last year the Australian Government reduced the number of people eligible for support through its Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) – a program which provides only 89 per cent of the New Start Living Allowance. This equates to $35 per day.
Further changes came into effect in June this year where the majority of people seeking asylum are being advised that they will lose this income if assessed as work ready, even if they don’t have a job to go to.
Greater Dandenong Mayor Councillor Youhorn Chea said today’s roundtable was all about local government and community leaders collectively calling on the Australian Government to urgently reverse its decision.
“Today was a powerful show of support for people seeking asylum and refugees,” Cr Chea said.
“We are all very concerned for the welfare of people seeking asylum and the impact these changes will have, not only financially, but also on their health and wellbeing.”
He said Councils in both metropolitan and regional Victoria were well represented.
Mayor Chea said a key focus of today’s discussions centred on strategies that would enable a whole of community approach to this issue.
He said cuts to support services for people seeking asylum would mean local communities in Victoria would end up bearing the burden of supporting their residents affected by the loss of income and support.
“Today we talked about ways we could work better together in an advocacy role as well as collaborative approaches to material aid and resources at a municipal and regional level.”
At today’s roundtable Councils drafted a joint advocacy statement and discussed to continue working collaboratively in this space.
The City of Greater Dandenong currently has almost 2000 people seeking asylum in the local community and it is anticipated these changes will affect the vast majority of them, including children, families and single adults.