people, including children, were safely accommodated every night
Safe accommodation for people seeking asylum
More than 70% of asylum seekers in Australia do not receive any kind of government support, leaving them incredibly vulnerable with limited access to accommodation and welfare services.
To combat this, the Sisters of Charity Foundation partnered with the Asylum Seekers Centre to provide safe accommodation and welfare services to displaced people at risk of homelessness.
Creating a new life and finding independence
In 2014 the Sisters of Charity Foundation invested close to $3 million in the purchase and renovation of a residential building, named Providence House, for the exclusive use of clients of the Asylum Seekers Centre.
Providence House residents can access practical support through the Centre, including financial assistance, health care and medication, and groceries and meals. In addition to having their basic needs met, residents can also access educational and recreational activities – providing opportunities for development and social support – and assistance with intensive casework, legal support and finding employment for those who have work rights.
When residents have secured a visa and steady income, they are helped to transition out of the house and into independence.
Why is the Foundation helping asylum seekers?
Access to safe, quality housing is a basic human need and fundamental to helping traumatised people make a new start.
Every year thousands of asylum seekers seek refuge in Australia. Most arrive with nothing, know no one and are deeply traumatised by the circumstances of their displacement. Most are not able to access any form of government support and they must rely on compassionate, well organised non-government organisations and charities to assist with their most basic needs.
Our partnership with the Asylum Seekers Centre
To celebrate the Sisters of Charity’s 175 years in Australia, the Foundation launched a legacy project to make a real and lasting difference to one of the most disadvantaged groups of people in our society. After consultation with Homelessness NSW, the Foundation approached the Asylum Seekers Centre to develop a housing partnership.
The Asylum Seekers Centre provides practical and personal support to people living in the community who are seeking asylum. Its services include accommodation, financial relief, legal advice, health care and counselling, employment assistance, education, nutrition and social support. Of the recent arrivals at the Centre, about two-thirds are homeless or about to become homeless and 98% require mental health support. About a third have no Medicare support and more than a third do not have the right to work.
In 2020–2021, the Asylum Seekers Centre cared for 4,000+ people seeking asylum, including more than 1,000 children.
About Providence House
Providence House is a 2-bedroom, 4-apartment residential building located in Petersham, in Sydney’s Inner West.
The Asylum Seekers Centre began managing the property in March 2015 and the Sisters of Charity Foundation continues to take care of ongoing maintenance costs.
We are so grateful to be living in Providence House. It is very beautiful and I feel very safe living here
Providence House resident Alina, an asylum seeker from Eastern Europe.
What help and hope can do
Nula is a young woman from an African country. In her homeland she was the victim of physical and sexual violence. She was not allowed to have access to her children and left fearing for her life.
When she came to Australia, Nula wanted to work. She wanted to know how she could change her life. She had already started studying at TAFE while sleeping on the floor of a community member’s home and reached out to the Asylum Seekers Centre for help.
The road to independence
The ASC assessed Nula and she was transitioned into Providence House. There Nula met other women who showed her how to travel to the shops, how to attend information sessions about safety, tenancy rights and responsibilities, and she learned the basics of shared living. She also attended the female GP and nurse clinic and was referred to counselling.
Nula is now safe and independent. She moved into a private rental unit and is happily employed as an aged care worker. She is very grateful for the accommodation that she received at Providence House – without it, Nula says she would have found it difficult to gain the independence that she needed to be her true self and part of the Australian community.
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In one year through the Asylum Seekers Centre:
health assessments were carried out
legal consultations were conducted
people were provided with a hot lunch every day
people were provided with groceries every week
children were provided with backpacks and equipment for school