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Asylum seekers/refugees

Financial and other supports

The results represented in this section are based on 50 individuals who identified as asylum seekers or refugees.(1) The low response cohort and a higher non-response rate compared to general cohort allow for an indicative, rather than a definitive analysis of the current living and financial situation of these individuals.

Of the 50 asylum seeker/refugee respondents, with 50:50 split of female and male. About 46% of these respondents were parents or carers to children under 18, representing a total of 45 children in the total cohort. The majority of respondents (75%) were aged between 25-44, and 17% were aged between 18-24 years. The majority of respondents (63%) lived in private rental (Chart 30).

Only nine per cent of asylum seekers/refugees were in receipt of a Centrelink payment, which were likely to only include refugee respondents with permanent protection visas, and are thus eligible for Centrelink assistance. Over half of respondents were receiving support through the Red Cross Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (54%). These respondents were likely to be asylum seekers on bridging visas, who were not eligible for Centrelink supports and would have no rights to work or study in Australia. Respondents noted utilising other community-based services such as The Salvation Army, AMES and Anglicare for further assistance (Chart 29).

Chart 29 asylum seekers and/or refugees financial and other support

Housing and employment status

The majority of asylum seeker/refugee respondents (96%) were not employed. Majority of unemployed asylum seekers/refugee (87%) stated that visa restrictions as their barriers to employment, followed by caring duty (9%), studying (7%) and disability/health problems (2%).(2)

"It’s really hard to get by. Especially the bills, gas, electricity and rents are very expensive." - Respondent comment

"In terms of food because we are a family of six, we sometimes have to cut down and eat less just so food can be enough for the next few days. The kids sometimes go without and this is disheartening." - Respondent comment

Chart 30 Asylum seeker/refugee - Housing status

Results of financial situation

Others also noted that they lacked the education, training or skills (six respondents). The comments of this cohort stressed that the language and culture was a significant barrier to employment. 

Chart 31 shows the impact that financial pressure has on asylum seekers/refugees. This group might be especially impacted by reduced income support payments, as some rely solely on the Red Cross and other community-based services.

Eighty-two per cent of respondents reported feeling stressed about their futures. Three quarters of respondents (76%) noted they had cut down on basic necessities and almost half had had to delay payment of utility bills. Forty per cent had gone with meals.

"We need to have English classes to be able to go to work whenever we get our work visa." - Respondent comment

"Besides not having work allowance there are lots of other barriers like language. As I don’t know it properly I think if I could work I might have lots of problem finding one." - Respondent comment

Chart 31. Results of financial situation

1. More information about asylum seekers and refugees, including the definitions and Australian policy on asylum seekers and refugees, can be found in https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/questions-and-answers-about-refugees-asylum-seekers
2. The total was more than 100% as each respondent can report more than one barrier to employment. Non-response of the asylum seeker/respondent barrier to employment was four respondents (8%).