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Asylum Seeker Project

 
The Asylum Seeker Project, Sydney Road Brunswick

History

The Asylum Seeker Project (ASP) was established in 1997 by volunteers who encountered significant numbers of Timorese asylum seekers. They were particularly vulnerable because they were not permitted to work in Australia or provided with any government assistance.

Recognising these people’s critical needs, the ASP focused on providing these asylum seekers with housing and material aid.

The ASP, formerly a part of Hotham Mission, joined Lentara UnitingCare in 2013 and continues to provide support to asylum seekers living lawfully in the community.

What we do 

The ASP supports the most vulnerable people who are seeking asylum in the community. Due to their legal status, many asylum seekers are unable to work, or access any forms of welfare provided by the Australian Government. Many have nowhere to live, as they are unable to apply for mainstream homeless accommodation or public housing programs, falling outside the homelessness support system. These people have to rely on the charity of non-government organisations like Lentara UnitingCare for assistance.

The capacity of the Project is limited by our ability to provide safe housing. In 2016 we were able to support up to 60 individuals including 14 children.  

  • Intensive casework support from our team of qualified caseworkers
  • Rent-free accomodation through our pool of 18 donated properties. Families are generally given a whole property to themselves, while singles are often placed in male-only or female-only sharehouses. This increases socialising and emotional support for asylum seekers who are at risk of social isolation and mental health problems, while reducing living costs through shared meals and utilities.
  • A Basic Living Allowance (BLA) of $100/month
  • Assistance with utilities and other bills
  • Limited material aid including food hampers, cleaning products, toiletries, clothes and furniture
  • Specific support groups such as the very popular monthly Women's Group which includes arts and crafts, excursions, music and other activites.
  • Individual and systemic advocacy and research.

The actual numbers of people seeking asylum who are homeless is difficult to assess. Lentara does not keep a waiting list due to limited capacity. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has a waiting list of at least 40 people in housing crisis at any time, as well as other clients facing housing difficulties.

The ASP is unfunded and relies on the generosity of private donors, philanthropic grants and trusts and Church congregations throughout Victoria, who support us through various fundraising activities and volunteer their time and facilities to support local services.

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