Today’s most important news is going to be overshadowed by the exposure of cheating in the Australian cricket team. I love my cricket and I am extraordinarily disappointed that our team has been caught cheating. Like people all over the country I will follow the story and share my outrage with friends and colleagues,
But I don’t want to miss the most important news story for the day: the federal government is about to cut Social Security payments snd support services to 15,000 asylum seekers living in Australia. The vast majority of these people arrived in Australia over five years ago and are still waiting for their claim for refugee status to be assessed. Their lives are held in limbo, citizens of nowhere, unable to put down roots because they don’t know whether they’ll be sent back to the country whose persecution they have fled. History suggests that the vast majority will be found to be refugees. They are men, women and children who have fled unimaginable violence and terror and cast themselves upon Australia’s mercy.
Discussions of asylum seekers in Australia have always proven problematic in the past, unleashing debates about whether our policy settings were only attracting more people and leading to more deaths at sea. This is not in play here. Australia’s policy of turning back boats is very clear and what happens to these people living in Australia will make no difference to that.
We are left only with the simple reality of men, women and children in need of our care and protection. They don’t have families to turn to for assistance. They have us.
A press release from the Refugee Council says
The government is planning to make cuts to the Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) program that provides a basic living allowance (typically 89% of Newstart allowance, equating to just $247 per week), casework support, assistance in finding housing, and access to torture and trauma counselling. People waiting for a decision about their claim for protection receive these supports.
An alliance of close to 100 civil society organisations, including the Refugee Council of Australia and Australian Council of Social Service, is calling on the government to urgently reverse their position to cut income support for people seeking asylum from 1 April 2018.
I find it incomprehensible that we would deny access to torture and trauma counselling to people who have been through extreme trauma; that we would consider cutting back a basic living allowance that already has people living below the poverty line; that we would strip away from parents the ability to provide the most basic care to the children.
The cheating by the Australian cricket team disappoints me. This disgusts me.
I’ll be contacting my representative in Federal Parliament today to ask him to take action on this.
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