Imagine an Australia where refugees who seek our help, and have committed no crime, are not locked up for months or years. Imagine that instead, we give them a warm bed in a real home while they get started in a new life.
Now we can make that a reality, by opening our hearts and homes for asylum seekers as they find their feet. We’re working with Australian Homestay Network through a new, Government-approved program to provide temporary accommodation to approved asylum seekers.
Most asylum seekers are eligible for bridging visas once the Government has assessed their bona fides though health, identity and security checks. Bridging visas mean refugees can live and work in the community, but previously, they could only do so if they had family or friends in Australia. Otherwise, they must stay in detention facilities.
Sadly, many who are fleeing persecution don’t already have contacts in Australia: that’s where we come in.
Could you spare a room or granny flat for six weeks through this professionally managed program?
Find out more and register your interest here: http://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/refugees/host-an-asylum-seeker/register-your-interest
Here’s how it works.
After you register your interest, we’ll pass on your details to the Australian Homestay Network, who are working closely with the Australian Red Cross on this programme.
AHN will ask you to complete an online training and assessment. After this, you will be required to get a police check. This is standard practice in the homestay industry, and involves requesting a letter from the police to vouch that you don’t have a criminal background that would make you unsuitable
Then, if there is an opportunity to host an asylum seeker in your area (they’re interested in all areas, including rural and regional), a professional from AHN will get in touch to organise a time to come and visit you at your home, walk you through the program and answer your questions.
Following that, if your application is successful, you’ll be asked if you can accept an eligible applicant into your home for six weeks.
Before the end of your six weeks as a host, your guest will be given options for further long-term or short-term accommodation.
You needn’t be home throughout the week to be a host, nor provide anything more than a safe place to stay. You’ll receive training and support throughout the six week period, and a weekly stipend to help with costs; though, should you prefer, you can choose to donate this stipend to refugee support programs which we’ll let you know about.
Meanwhile, your guest asylum seeker will have dedicated experts to help with the practicalities of finding a job and a place of their own, and getting a translator, if needed, for important things like medical appointments. You’ll also have access to a 24 hour support hotline during the six weeks. Asylum seekers who are highly vulnerable don’t come through this program, but have other alternatives.
This is an approach that has worked for many years in other countries, and has been run by the Homestay Network for many years here in Australia with foreign students. It’s far cheaper to the public purse than immigration detention.
Most importantly, every asylum seeker we host won’t be inside a detention centre, where we know they could experience months or years of anguish. Instead, we’re holding out a hand of friendship and really showing the way for a new, compassionate Australian response to asylum seekers.
If you think you might be able to open your home to an asylum seeker for six weeks, register your interest here: http://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/refugees/host-an-asylum-seeker/register-your-interest
GetUp members have already shown a commitment to treating asylum seekers with compassion, humanity and fairness — just as we would any person. Now we can be part of a new solution, getting people out of detention centres before their mental health is compromised, while extending the simple kindness and hospitality that make us cherish this lucky country.
Thanks for standing up,
the GetUp team