Asylum seekers to face poverty after release, charity groups under immense pressure

Published 27 November 2012  |  
Charity groups in Western Australia have criticised the government's decision to release thousands of refugees without the right to work, warning that they would face a life of poverty and insecurity.

Under the new policy, announced last week by immigration minister Chris Bowen, asylum seekers arriving by boat will be granted bridging visas, but denied the right to work despite receiving limited accommodation and financial help.

WA Chief executive of Anglicare, Ian Carter, claimed that the policy lacked foresight, explaining that the Perth housing market was already under immense pressure with 22,000 people on the waiting list for public housing, and youths seeking crisis housing facing a three year wait.

"If someone came to us today and asked for housing, we simply could not help them," said Carter.

"That is the magnitude of the problem. If we can't find housing for the people in need now, how can we help the new refugees?"

St Vincent de Paul Society's National President, Anthony Thornton, also condemned the policy, warning that the move was "only going to increase the levels of poverty and pain for these families."

"We will do all that we can to help these people but it is simply wrong for a government to be making a policy that forces people to depend on charity in order to survive," he stated.

The policy allows a single asylum seeker with no children to receive $219 a week, six weeks of accommodation assistance and limited access to medical services.

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