Safety and security are key factors that can significantly impact our mental health. Knowing that you have a safe place to call home, food on the table, and financial security can go a long way to reducing stress and anxiety.
At Australian Red Cross, we work every day to provide assistance to people who don’t have access to those things, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the busiest times in our history. Migrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum are some of the most severely impacted, often the hardest hit by job loss, but the last to be considered for vital socio-economic support.
We provide support in a number of ways, including specialised help for migrants and refugees facing family and domestic violence.
It is well established that family and domestic conflict and violence increases during emergencies and crises, and sadly, COVID-19 is no different. In 2020, the proportion of people in our migration emergency relief casework program experiencing family or domestic violence went from 2% to 10%.
We want to ensure that no matter what a person’s visa status may be, that they are able to access help and support when needed, to stay safe from violence and abuse, and have the space to make decisions about their future.
Australia’s migrant community are a diverse group including people who cannot return home because it is unsafe, people who have made their lives here, studying and working, and who are on a pathway to citizenship, people previously filling skills and labour shortages who are now unemployed, and others who are stranded because of border closures, unavailability and unaffordability of flights.
They have contributed greatly to our community and can face significant challenges when trying to leave a domestic or family violence situation. In many cases, they have no access to financial support or other support services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these issues and affected many people’s ability to support themselves. They may have lost work, be unable to return to their country of origin or seek alternative accommodation.
How Red Cross provides support
No two people’s experience is the same. We provide support in a number of different ways, tailored to someone’s individual circumstances and needs. This can include:
Financial assistance with short-term support to assist with referrals to other organisations
Financial assistance with medium -term support for people who are not already working with a family violence service provider
We can also assist with other support, including accessing safe housing and food relief, where needed.
Working with the community
Our Family and Domestic Violence Financial Assistance Program builds on our experience and expertise in supporting people on temporary visas, refugees and people seeking asylum, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past year, Red Cross teams have supported over 130,000 people on temporary visas across 99% of Australia through emergency relief payments, food relief and casework support for people in particularly difficult and complex situations.
We are already working with a range of specialised family and domestic violence agencies, to support referrals and ensure we are getting financial assistance to those who need it most.
Making it easy to access support
Applying for support is straight forward through our online portal: https://www.redcross.org.au/familyviolencerelief. Whilst some supporting documentation is required, we encourage everyone who may need assistance to apply and we can work with you to discuss your specific needs. Any information or documentation you provide is kept completely confidential.
If you are a family violence service provider, you can assist a client to self-register online. This is the safest and quickest way to get confidential information to Red Cross.
If you need an interpreter to help you apply you can ask for this before you apply online. If you need support initially, you can contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450, stating your preferred language and ask to be connected to Red Cross on 1800 733 276.
If you need help to make an application and don’t have anyone else that can help you contact Red Cross. Phone 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276) or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
At Red Cross, we act for humanity and work to ensure everyone can live in safety. We know that we get through tough times by helping each other. We’ll continue to ensure that support reaches those most in need, no matter where they are, as quickly as possible.