Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller has called on the Federal Government to make sure every child in Australia is protected from the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – including asylum seekers and refugees on temporary visas.
Mayor Waller has joined the Refugee Council of Australia and a range of other groups and individuals in the No Child Left Behind campaign, which is urging the Federal Government to extend JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments to families seeking asylum.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit all of us hard and as we deal with our own daily challenges it is too easy to forget the most vulnerable, such as those members of our community who are seeking asylum or who are refugees on temporary visas,” Mayor Waller said.
“There are currently more than 96,000 people on bridging visas seeking protection in this country and more than 16,000 of them are children.
“They’re not eligible for JobSeeker or JobKeeper, and they’re often precariously employed in those very sectors hit hardest by the shutdown, such as the service industries.
“That’s why we are calling on the Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Rushton to extend the JobSeeker payment to all those on bridging visas and ensure everyone has access to Medicare and the PBS so that no child gets left behind.”
Mayor Waller said the concern was a very personal one for the Liverpool community, which from 2016-2019 welcomed the second highest intake of refugees in NSW – more than 4000 people.
She said Liverpool is currently home to 1251 people seeking asylum and while local service providers were doing their best to assist, increased demand for emergency relief and housing support is straining already stretched resources.
“While the numbers are heartbreaking, for us this is not about statistics, this is about our friends and our neighbours. This issue cuts to the heart and soul of our community,” Mayor Waller said.
“We need the Federal Government to act. The idea that any child should go hungry or be at risk of losing their home or even go without medical care is simply not good enough in a country as wealthy as Australia.”
Read the letter here.