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Emerge advocates for support for women without permanent residency
October 9, 2018
Talia is from Sudan. She has two children and moved to Australia three years on a spousal visa. Her marriage ended violently, with Talia running for her life. After fleeing her husband ended the visa leaving Talia homeless, scared, alone with her children, and without a permanent visa. Fortunately, she was put in touch with Emerge, and last year spent more than three months in its safe refuge.
While Talia’s immediate headache and anxiety has been removed, her arrival at Emerge is creating undue stress for the organisation.
As Paula Westhead, the Executive Officer, says the women arrive with nothing, nor are they are eligible for benefits from Centrelink, access to Medicare, and have limited housing options. Once they escape their partner, they have no access to money and are unable to contribute to their accommodation or living costs.
“Effectively Emerge provides everything, from food, medical costs and clothing. The women stay with us for long stretches of time because there is no housing available for them. It costs around $15,000 per year to support a family which we simply do not have,” she added.
Recently $30,000 has been made available through the Victorian Government to Emerge for which is a good step forward.
While welcomed, the reality is that it will only allow Emerge to look after about two families a year. Currently the organisation supports two non-PR families. However, the funding assists Emerge to support women with their immigration needs, groceries, education, and material aid. Emerge is supported with Probono legal advice and InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence.
“We don’t want to turn these women away and the reality is that these families have nowhere else to go and tend to stay longer than most women, which impacts on their ability to settle into a community. It also means that we are unable to help other women who urgently need the service we provide,” Paula Westhead said.
Emerge, along with other family violence services, continues to call on the Federal Government to speed up the processing of applications for permanent residency visas, and continues to campaign for more funding through the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services/ Family Violence Services.