“All are treated with equal dignity and respect, no matter where they are in the process of seeking protection and regardless of how they arrived in Australia.”
Casework at JRS certainly keeps you on your toes. As a drop-in service, you never know who is going to come through the door and caseworkers need to be flexible and able to think on their feet.
People come to JRS at all stages of the protection process: from people at the very beginning who have just arrived and are planning to apply for protection, to people awaiting an interview by the department, or a review from a tribunal or the courts. Some people who come to JRS for assistance are at the end of the process and are starting to contemplate making the decision to leave Australia.
All are treated with equal dignity and respect, no matter where they are in the process of seeking protection and regardless of how they arrived in Australia. Depending on what stage people are at in the process and the capacity of JRS to assist, there are different services and supports that may be available.
For people whose claims are found to have no merit, there are very limited options. Government funded support is cut off, rights are restricted, and life becomes deliberately difficult.
JRS is one of the few organisations where people nearing the end of the protection process can come for support. This may be for casework support, limited financial assistance, foodbank, and social support activities, such as community cooking or men’s group.
By the time Reza* came to JRS for support he had been living in the community for a number of years and had gone back-and-forth between the tribunal and courts multiple times. He had lost his work rights, had no access to Medicare and had exhausted most of his community contacts, as he had been living off the generosity of his friends, who were also seeking protection. While he was contemplating another attempt at Judicial Review through the Federal Court, the reality of a life lived in limbo and continued destitution was starting to set in.
While we were not able to do much for Reza, we were able to provide him with limited financial assistance, casework support, access to foodbank and opportunities to be involved in community events and activities.
This support allowed Reza the space to be able to make an informed and considered decision to return to his home country with the support of IOM.
I kept in contact with Reza until he left Australia to return home. The last time I saw Reza he gave me a hug and said, “You are my sister. I have been welcomed here. You have listened and helped when no one would. Thank you.”
By Angela Gallard, Arrupe Project Caseworker
*names have been changed to protect identity