Asylum Seekers Housing Program
The Sisters of Charity Foundation partnered with the Asylum Seekers Centre to provide emergency housing to asylum seekers who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
As part of the Sisters of Charity 175-year anniversary celebrations, the Foundation launched a legacy project to make “a real and lasting benefit to a group of people who are some of the most disadvantaged,” said Foundation Chairman Richard Haddock AM. After consultation with Homelessness NSW, the Foundation approached the Asylum Seekers Centre to develop a housing partnership.
More than 70% of asylum seekers in Australia do not receive any kind of government support, which leaves them incredibly vulnerable as they have limited access to accommodation and related services.
Our partnership with the Asylum Seekers Centre
The Sisters of Charity Foundation has invested close to $3 million, made possible by the generosity of our supporters, on the purchase and renovation of a residential building for the exclusive use of clients of the Asylum Seekers Centre. The Centre manages the property, named Providence House, and provides casework support for all residents, while the Sisters of Charity Foundation is responsible for the property’s ongoing maintenance. For example, the Foundation has just completed a major fire safety upgrade.
About Providence House
Providence House is a residential building located in Petersham, in Sydney’s Inner West. It provides emergency and transitional housing for asylum seekers who have nowhere else to go, along with other support services that help them transform their lives and eventually make their own contributions to the community.
The Asylum Seekers Centre began managing the property in March 2015 and the Sisters of Charity Foundation continues to take care of the ongoing maintenance. Along with accommodation, Providence House also enables the Centre to provide a range of practical support to new arrivals, including financial assistance for general living expenses, health care and medication, food parcels and daily hot lunches.
In addition to having their basic needs met, clients can also access educational and recreational activities, which provide opportunities for development and social support, and assistance with intensive casework, legal support and finding employment for those with work rights.
“We are so grateful to be living in Providence House. It is very beautiful and I feel very safe living here,” says Providence House resident Alina, an asylum seeker from Eastern Europe.
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,” said Haddock.
“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.”
The Sisters of Charity Foundation and the Asylum Seekers Centre are two of these compassionate non-government organisations.
What is the Asylum Seekers Centre?
The Asylum Seekers Centre provides practical and personal support for people living in the community who are seeking asylum. Its services include:
- Financial relief
- Legal advice
- Health care and counselling
- Employment assistance
- Education, nutrition and social support
Asylum seekers are incredibly vulnerable. 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 2017-2018, the Asylum Seekers Centre cared for 3,210 people seeking asylum, including 814 children. Those people came from 91 countries including Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The Asylum Seekers Centre provided:
- 25 people, including children, were safely accommodated every night
- 715 legal consultations were conducted
- 3,459 health assessments were carried out
- 1,560 pharmaceutical prescriptions provided
- 256 people secured paid jobs
- 300 people attended employment workshops
- 271 people attended English classes
- 260 people given financial relief
- 55 people were provided with a hot lunch every day
- 350 people were provided with groceries every week
- 132 children were provided with backpacks and equipment for school
The Centre does not receive government funding and relies on the generosity of volunteers and organisations like the Sisters of Charity Foundation.