With metropolitan Victoria in Stage 4 lockdown and the rest of the state in Stage 3, we are all experiencing some form of insecurity and anxiety with many questions unanswered. When will Covid-19 end? Will there be a vaccine before the end of the year? When will we be able to see our family and friends again? When we are allowed to return work again, will I have a job? These are just a few of the questions that many of us ask ourselves. For asylum seekers and refugees having no money for rent, food and basic necessities is a reality and it is in times like these that we find out what holds us together as a community.
Our parish has had a long history with supporting asylum seeker and refugee families. From the early days of providing housing and parish involvement with the settlement of families in local housing that suited the changing circumstances of asylum seekers and refugees to our renewed and new partnerships with Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP) and CatholicCare.
In the current Covid-19 health and economic crisis, many support agencies including BASP and CatholicCare, continue to experience greater demands on their resources in order to provide the general emergency funding to assist with the payment of rent, utilities and provision of food. In addition, providing the emotional and practical support to families is increasingly more difficult during this lockdown period. For many having no income leads to a high risk of homelessness and health issues.
For nearly 20 years now our parishes have readily collected and delivered non-perishable foods, cleaning products, washing powder, baby items, toiletries etc to BASP. However, with the current government restrictions in place, the parishes have not been able to collect and/or deliver goods directly to BASP. Our continued support is sought but donations are not always about money, they may include assistance with housing options, employment opportunities (full-time, part-time, casual), gift vouchers, travel and phone cards, groceries and much more. Visit the BASP website to find out more about the works of BASP and how you may be able to help.
In addition to our work with BASP our parishes have been collaborating with CatholicCare for over five years providing housing opportunities and practical assistance for asylum seekers and refugees in the Dandenong area. So far this year, with the financial support of our parishes CatholicCare have been able to:
- Provide rental support;
- Purchase a tool set to assist with employment opportunities for a carpenter;
- Purchase a bed and mattress for a young pregnant asylum seeker who had been sleeping on a dirty mattress on a floor;
- Purchase a laptop to assist three young women to study online for their Certificate III in Aged Care thus enhancing their employment opportunities;
- Other material support in the way of food vouchers.
To learn more about the works of CatholicCare, visit their website.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had and continues to have an impact on all of us. The Impact on refugees and asylum seekers is immense. Let us learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves.