Media Releases

JobKeeper payments should support temporary visa holders

31 March 2020

FECCA has welcomed the Federal Government’s JobKeeper Payment announcement, and has congratulated the Government in particular for supporting New Zealand residents on special category visa 444 through the package. FECCA, however, has called on the Federal Government to ensure other temporary visa holders are also supported. Unfortunately, the Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper payment package does […]

FECCA has welcomed the Federal Government’s JobKeeper Payment announcement, and has congratulated the Government in particular for supporting New Zealand residents on special category visa 444 through the package.

FECCA, however, has called on the Federal Government to ensure other temporary visa holders are also supported.

Unfortunately, the Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper payment package does not apply to people on temporary visas, such as bridging visas and skilled working visas. FECCA estimates there are about 500,000 people on temporary visas who are not supported by the JobKeeper package and who face either losing their income, or have already lost their income, as a result of measures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The JobKeeper Payment package also does not support employers with large numbers of staff who are on temporary visas, such as in the agricultural, hospitality and retail sectors. Because the payments only apply to current or recently stood down employees, and do not apply to new hires, these businesses will receive no support for retaining their staff who happen to be on temporary visas, and will find it much harder to bounce back after the crisis.

FECCA CEO Mohammad Al-Khafaji welcomed the JobKeeper package, but said it should be extended to others regardless of visa status.

“We absolutely applaud the Federal Government for announcing this package and for listening to our concerns and extending it to New Zealanders working in Australia,” he said.

“However, this package should also provide some certainty to other temporary visa holders working in this country, regardless of their visa status. This is a relatively small cohort of people working in Australia who have contributed so much to our communities and to the economy.

“They include disability and aged care workers supporting those in need, highly skilled engineers adding expertise to local companies, chefs and service staff contributing to successful hospitality businesses, and those on temporary visas who are seeking asylum.

“These people are in the same situation as their co-workers in Australian workplaces and this package should provide support to them too. I think most Australians would agree that for these people who have worked here for many years to be left destitute without any other safety net is patently unfair.

FECCA is the national peak multicultural body representing people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in Australia.

Contact: 0434 307 012 / media@fecca.org.au

Urgent support needed for visa holders stuck in COVID-19 outbreak limbo

25 March 2020

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for the Federal Government to urgently extend stimulus package support to some categories of visa holders who will be left unsupported amid the coronavirus pandemic. Under the current rules stimulus package support will not be provided to certain people […]

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for the Federal Government to urgently extend stimulus package support to some categories of visa holders who will be left unsupported amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the current rules stimulus package support will not be provided to certain people in the community, including:

  • Temporary visa holders
  • Permanent residents who were granted permanent residency after 1 January 2019
  • Those who call Australia home on Special Category visa Subclass 444 (Citizens of New Zealand)

These groups of people will experience job loss and hardship as a result of measures to slow the spread of coronavirus and the economic consequences of those measures.

There is also uncertainly around what level of access to healthcare these and other visa types will be eligible for, which requires urgent clarification.

Due to travel restrictions, many of these affected people, including some international students, will be unable to travel to a country where they hold citizenship, meaning many could be stranded in Australia without access to essential support services and healthcare if action is not taken. We urge the Government to support these cohorts.

FECCA‘s priorities are:

  • That the Government ensure temporary migrants, recent permanent residents and those on Special Category visa Subclass 444 can access income support should they be quarantined or lose their paid work during this economic downturn
  • That the Government ensure health care is provided on the basis of need, not visa class
  • That the Government ensure the timely distribution of correct and consistent information in languages other than English

FECCA chairperson Mary Patetsos said while FECCA welcomed key elements of the Federal stimulus and health package announced in recent days, urgent reassurances for visa holders were needed.

“This crises we all face is completely unprecedented and requires us all to rethink existing ways of doing things to ensure the safety of individuals living in Australia, and of the broader community,” she said.

“I think most Australians would consider it profoundly unfair for a situation to exist where those living and working in Australia on certain visa types lose their jobs due to public health measures designed to slow the spread of the virus, but then have no access to financial support.

“This situation is even more problematic if as a result of travel restrictions people in these categories have no choice but to stay in Australia, with no employment and no welfare support.

“As case numbers continue to rise many visa holders are also anxious about whether they will have access to healthcare. These people need urgent reassurance that their heath needs will be met if they contract COVID-19.

“These people contribute to our society and economy, they are our friends, neighbours and co-workers, and they deserve the support of their community at this time.

“This is a moral imperative, and also a public health one – no one should be in a situation where they might be deterred from seeking medical help due to financial circumstances.

FECCA acknowledges the Government’s efforts in dealing with these complex issues and offers its support in its efforts to respond to this pandemic, including for coordination with Australia’s CALD communities.”

FECCA is the national peak multicultural body representing people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in Australia.

Contact: 0434 307 012 / media@fecca.org.au

FECCA launches resource encouraging CALD seniors to share ideas for improvement with the Aged Care Royal Commission

17 March 2020

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) has released information in simple English and 21 languages to help older people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds to tell the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety how they think aged care could be better.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) has released information in simple English and 21 languages to help older people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds to tell the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety how they think aged care could be better.

FECCA has been working closely with community engagement staff from the Royal Commission to encourage older CALD Australians to share their experience of aged care services. The Royal Commission announced last year that they would accept submissions in languages other than English (in writing, by telephone or by audio/video recordings). However, only 5% of submissions received have related to CALD issues, of which a very small number have been in languages other than English.

In its Interim Report of November 2019, the Royal Commission highlighted the significant feedback it has already received about problems with the aged care system. The Royal Commission is now asking people to tell them how the system could be improved.

FECCA Chairperson Mary Patetsos is urging people from CALD backgrounds to take advantage of this opportunity to make constructive suggestions for improvement.

“It is really important that CALD people make their voices heard so that future improvements to aged care services take their views into account,” she said.

“Without significant feedback from CALD people, it is difficult to see how Governments can fully understand and plan to respond effectively to the particular needs of older CALD Australians.”

Ms Patetsos urged people to use the new resources and to tell the Royal Commission what they think in their own language.

It is also important to note that people must send their ideas to the Royal Commission by the deadline of 30 April 2020.

The new resource is available at: http://fecca.org.au/how-can-aged-care-services-be-better/

A resource to encourage organisations working with older CALD Australians to have conversations with them about the Royal Commission and how to tell their stories is also available at: http://fecca.org.au/royal-commission-into-aged-care-toolkit/

 

Media Contact: Sunita Miranda 0431 442 204 or media@fecca.org.au

Ministerial Forum on Multicultural Affairs an important first

13 March 2020

The first national Ministerial Forum on Multicultural Affairs is underway in Brisbane, which FECCA describes as an important first step towards sharing best practice and promoting social cohesion across the country.

The first national Ministerial Forum on Multicultural Affairs is underway in Brisbane, which FECCA describes as an important first step towards sharing best practice and promoting social cohesion across the country.

The Forum was announced at FECCA’s national conference in October last year, after FECCA wrote to all State and Federal Ministers responsible for Multicultural Affairs to propose the establishment of a standing intergovernmental forum on issues that affect culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians.

FECCA presented to the Forum via video link this morning and addressed a range of issues affecting CALD Australians.

FECCA called on Ministers to recognise the need for an appropriately resourced, national anti-racism strategy and campaign to promote social cohesion, dispel myths and stereotypes and educate the community and businesses around how to deal with racism.

FECCA also advised the Forum that any public communications strategy relating to COVID-19 will need to be inclusive of CALD people with varying degrees of English language proficiency, and that FECCA has the capacity to facilitate focus groups to assess community relevance and understanding of translated materials.

FECCA Chairperson Mary Patetsos congratulated the Queensland Government for hosting the Ministerial Forum and for inviting the peak body for CALD Australia to participate.

“FECCA thanks the Queensland Government for taking leadership in this area, and the other States and Territories for participating in the Forum,” she said.

“Meeting at this level is important if we are going to develop meaningful strategies to promote social cohesion in Australia, and we hope that this is the first of many such Forums.

“Crucially, we asked the Forum that they consider supporting FECCA’s proposal for an appropriately-resourced national anti-racism strategy designed to combat the rising tide of racism in Australia.

“Such a campaign would be a very practical measure that would improve public safety and make all Australians from CALD backgrounds feel more safe.”
Contact: 0434 307 012 / media@fecca.org.au