A Ballarat councillor is calling for the city to reaffirm support for refugees and condemn the rollback of monetary assistance by the federal government.
Councillor Belinda Coates is calling for City of Ballarat to sign a joint statement from the City of Greater Dandenong advocating against cuts to Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS).
The Department of Home Affairs began a staggered exit of around 1500 people seeking asylum from the SRSS in late June. According to the Refugee Council of Australia, this will result in the asylum seekers losing income support of around $35 a day and not having access to torture trauma counselling.
Cr Coates said she was hopeful her fellow councillors would “show compassion and leadership” by signing up to a combined statement from 18 councils.
“Ballarat has a strong record of support for refugees and asylum seekers … however, it is acknowledged that local councils such as Ballarat have limited resources,” she said.
“It is in the best interest of the Ballarat community that we seek the assistance of the Commonwealth Government of Australia to provide support in the provision of adequate resources for asylum seekers based in our community.”
City of Ballarat has been a Refugee Welcome Zone since 2013. Cr Coates’ notice of motion will be tabled at the August 22 council meeting.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie said refugees were “most likely to find paid work and flourish when they are adequately supported”.
“You do not help people rebuild their lives by pushing them into destitution,” she said. “We strongly oppose this decision and it must be reversed as a matter of urgency to prevent great harm being done in our communities.”
It comes as Australia was plunged into a conversation about refugees this week, with Queensland senator Fraser Anning using his maiden Senate speech on Tuesday to praise the White Australia Policy, and called for a plebiscite to stop any Muslim migration.