No safety net.
Sakina and Ari are desperate.
Your kindness today means immediate practical help for Sakina’s family
The TV news paints a rosy picture of the Australian economy in recovery right now; businesses reopening, lower unemployment, the housing market booming. But we’re not seeing the whole story.
People like Sakina* and Ari* who arrived in Australia on a 489 Provisional Visa have been left behind. They don’t have a ‘safety net’. They are simply ineligible for government support in their time of need. They are out on their own.
The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to hit hard. At ARA, we hear heartbreaking stories like Sakina and Ari’s every day. For families facing tough times before the pandemic, the situation is now desperate.
Without your support for ARA, these families have no-one and nowhere to turn.
Right throughout lockdown, ARA never closed. Hundreds of families turned to us for support and comfort in the uncertainty that followed. Funds available through ARA’s Emergency Support Service were absolutely crucial, covering costs such as emergency accommodation, medication, and day-to-day necessities.
ARA was only able to provide this immediate and practical help thanks to donations from a generous group of people. However, high demand has significantly drained funds from the Emergency Support Service. Now, we must urgently replenish funds to help more people in need.
Families come to ARA at breaking point. They are referred from other agencies unable to provide assistance; agencies that know ARA will do anything to help. ARA’s case workers go above and beyond for the people who don’t fit the bill. People who don’t ‘tick all the boxes’ and who will fall silently through the cracks without our help.
ARA is their last resort – and you can be their lifeline. I know you care deeply about young families like Sakina’s. Will you please send a lifechanging gift to ARA urgently?
Sakina’s dreams of a bright future in Australia have been completely shattered.
Sakina, husband Ari and their two young children arrived in Australia in 2016. This young family were hopeful; a fresh start, ready to work and contribute their skills, learn English, become a part of the community. Tahira, now 12 and Jamil, now 9 were eager to go to school and study hard in their new country. The family found a modest home and began their new life.
Even though Ari is a qualified electrical engineer with 15 years’ experience, his skills are not recognised here and he has been unable to find any engineering work. His only option is to retrain as an electrician.
“My husband must study to be electrician at TAFE and do apprenticeship for four years. So while he studying, to earn income, he got a job with internet company to start,” says Sakina.
“We pay $5000 and go to TAFE to learn English. But after 500 hours we run out. I worry, I need to learn more English, I live here now.”
Ari worked in his job for two years while studying. The children began school and life was going in the right direction. But just one month before the COVID-19 crisis last year, through no fault of his own, Ari lost his job.
Due to the long waiting period to be eligible for social services, the family had no support at all. And without the right qualifications, finding a new job became almost impossible. So Ari withdrew all of the superannuation he had earned – $10,000, which should have been for their future. This had to be spent on living expenses and rent.
This young family did all they could to support themselves. But now it is all gone. There is no money left, for rent, bills, food or study. With no income, and ineligible for support due to their Visa conditions, Sakina and Ari found themselves unable to pay any bills at all.
“For 14 weeks we cannot pay anything, the rent, the electricity, the gas, school fees, the bus for Tahira to go to school. I do not know what to do. We try everything.”
It is utterly heartbreaking to watch Sakina talk about their situation. I know you feel their despair, like I do.
Sakina and Ari want the best future for their kids. Ari is a good man, well qualified, a hard worker, willing to do anything to support his family. They want to be a part of the Australian community. But how can they, with no income, no way to get the skills that Ari needs – not even enough money to pay the bus fare for Tahira to get to school?
That’s why we urgently need your gift before 30 June. We must help this young family pay their debt, and connect Ari with job opportunities, before they end up out on the street, with no money and no home. ARA’s Emergency Support Service can change their lives, with practical, immediate help.
The situation Ari faces is not uncommon. Unfortunately, many qualified people arrive in Australia and discover they must do further study.
Four years’ apprenticeship and study, while ineligible for any support, is an impossible situation for Sakina and Ari. Already a highly qualified engineer, Ari has to go right back to ‘square one’ – and does not even have the income to make it happen.
Visa conditions can be very confusing. In 2019, when Sakina and Ari became permanent residents, they thought they would qualify for government support if they fell on hard times. But visa conditions changed and to their despair, they discovered they had to wait until 2023 for any safety nets at all.
No concession card, no Centrelink, no Medicare and very limited access to humanitarian agencies. It’s like a row of doors being slammed in their faces.
Ari tried out for a labourer job a while ago. It was a long way from home and hard physical work, but he will do anything to earn money for his family. “But by 12 noon that day, the manager told him, ‘you can’t do this job’. He had the hope, but then was he so stressed again,” said Sakina.
Can you imagine Ari’s despair, unable to support his family, despite trying everything he could think of? This family needs our immediate support. Will you please send your donation urgently?
Stressed, ashamed and fearing homelessness, now Ari faces serious illness.
After 14 weeks with not one rent payment, the family’s landlord reported them to the Tenancy Board. It was a terrible time. Sakina and Ari had to appear in court online, twice, where payment was demanded.
The stress of facing court, and the ongoing fear of homelessness, was just too much for Ari. He began experiencing frightening chest pains. Sakina insisted he go to the doctor, but even visiting a doctor is stressful.
“We don’t have money for doctor so we stay home if sick. But when Ari has pains in his heart, I ask him to go. The doctor call many times to tell the result. But my husband will not go back. I know Ari is worried, because the appointment will cost money, and the medicine. But what if something very wrong?”
At the time of writing, we know Sakina has convinced Ari to make an appointment. We are still waiting to hear the results. It’s a frightening time for Sakina, on top of everything else.
Sakina and Ari visited Centrelink and five different organisations asking for help for their family. They were turned away by every single one.
Sakina’s family is not eligible for the government support we take for granted, nor do they ‘tick the boxes’ for support from other charitable organisations.
“Sometimes I go outside, crying. I don’t want my family to see me crying. I try to be strong, I say, maybe you get job, we get a chance.”
Finally a friend of Sakina’s told her about ARA. Sakina was absolutely distraught when she first spoke to us. She could not believe she finally found an organisation that would help. We have connected Sakina with a skilled case worker, who is trying to find solutions for their rental debt, as well as health, financial and legal assistance.
“This is very, very bad situation. I talk to ARA, I have the hope. They listen, they give me hope. I am so thankful.”
If Sakina and Ari cannot pay their rental bill by 1 August, they will be evicted.
Can you imagine the fear of having no roof over their heads in the middle of winter, with two children to care for, no money, no-one to help them? We must help this young family to safety.
Sakina says it is very difficult to ask for help, because they have never needed to ask before.
“Since we get married, we don’t get money from anyone. Never asked for money or help. Not me or my husband are the type of people who want to let other people pay for us. That’s why we spend all the super. But now it is so hard. I do not want to face the court again but we cannot find way to pay.”
Sakina asked me to pass on a special message to you.
“I hope you can help me and other people in bad time. We cannot get the help from anywhere, we are stuck. Please help us?”
My heart breaks for Sakina – and this is only one story.
These are families who were already struggling before the long-term effects of the pandemic. These are the families who slip through the cracks. But with your generous support, we can provide immediate, practical help through ARA’s Emergency Support Service.
If they cannot pay their rental bill by 1 August, Sakina, Ari, Tahira and Jamil will be on the street. That’s why we need your help urgently. Your kind gift today will add much needed funds to ARA’s Emergency Support Service.
We must be there for Sakina and her family. If not you and me, who will help them?
Can I count on your support?
CEO, Australian Refugee Association
P.S. I know you care deeply about people like Sakina, who have nowhere else to turn. Today, you can help with a gift towards ARA’s Emergency Support Service. Will you please help save this family from homelessness?