Red Cross continues to expand its work in migration support, through initiatives and programs that uphold the health, wellbeing and dignity of vulnerable migrants.
Haider is a Hazara, one of the ethnic minority groups in Afghanistan persecuted by the Taliban. After a dangerous journey to Australia, Haider was sent to Christmas Island to await his visa application. He was then moved to the Community Detention program in Ballarat and granted protection in 2011. Grateful for the support he received, Haider says, “The world is round, you know? Now you help us. Tomorrow we help you.” Australian Red Cross/Joe Cropp.
This year, Red Cross, together with partner agencies, continued its dedicated support to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. After the Australian Government implemented changes to asylum seeker policy, Red Cross, funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, assisted hundreds of asylum seekers to move out of immigration detention and live in the community while their visa claims were processed.
Responding to increased numbers within immigration detention facilities, Red Cross recruited and trained additional volunteer Humanitarian Observers to inform the Australian Government about what is needed to maintain the health, wellbeing and dignity of people in detention. Red Cross extended the length of visits to facilities across Australia, and took initial steps in setting up monitoring visits to offshore Nauru and Papua New Guinea facilities.
The International Tracing team continued to assist families to reconnect with loved ones or locate information on missing family members, with more than 50 per cent of cases closed in that time successfully resolved.
Like many teachers in Iraq, Khalid and his wife Hayfa became targets of kidnappings and death threats after the war. In 2010 they flew to Australia to seek asylum. Red Cross provided financial assistance and access to health care, while they anxiously waited for a protection visa. Khalid and Hayfa hope one day to be reunited with their children. “We are waiting,” says Khalid. “We don’t forget hope.” Australian Red Cross/Rodney Dekker.
Trafficking awareness training
Red Cross continued to deliver training around the complex needs of people who have experienced trafficking. This year more than 1,000 participants from 200 service providers, community and health organisations across Australia attended training to develop skills in providing safe and effective services for trafficked people. Since 2009, the Red Cross trafficking program has supported 129 people, with 21 new clients this year.
New legislation states that forced marriage is a criminal offence. Red Cross initiated a scoping project, funded by the government, to assess the needs of this group in order to provide appropriate assistance.
Support in a crisis
This year, 1,500 asylum seekers, refugees and migrants across Australia received support in times of urgent need, including household goods, food vouchers and transport assistance.
The Emergency Relief program – funded entirely by public donations and private grants to Red Cross – provides once off financial or material aid to this vulnerable group who encounter financial hardship and are not eligible for other support.
Responding to the needs identified in each state and territory, Red Cross expanded the program and developed a national strategy to ensure more effective support for clients.
Working with asylum seekers
The number of asylum seekers in Red Cross programs doubled to more than 20,000 this year. Asylum seekers now face further challenges under the changes to government policy including the removal of work rights.
Red Cross hosted a national Migration Support Practitioners Forum in June. Red Cross staff, volunteers, partner agencies, community and government representatives met to develop sustainable working strategies to ensure asylum seekers receive the support needed to build resilience while waiting on the outcome of their visa applications.
Red Cross launched the inaugural Vulnerability Report, presenting findings on asylum seeker experiences in Australia, with recommendations to ensure the humanitarian needs of this community are being met.