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Homelessness NSW held a successful forum to mark International Women’s Day on the topic of ‘COVID-19 and barriers to access: temporary visa holders and homelessness’. Approximately 70 people attended across the sector.
The speakers included two inspiring people with lived expertise of homelessness holding a temporary visa, Nemat Kharboutli, Strategic Support Manager at Muslim Women Australia, Jane Brock, Executive Officer at Immigrant Women’s Speakout, and Feiyi Zhang, Senior Policy Officer at Homelessness NSW.
· SHSs face complexity and challenges supporting CALD people holding temporary visas. This complexity and need increased during COVID-19.
· SHSs work in the ‘periphery’ to assist temporary visa holders due to their exclusion from mainstream assistance.
· Income is one of the biggest barriers to assisting temporary visa holders, due to the inability to access financial and social welfare support, but multiple barriers also include access to childcare subsidies, legal and migrant rights, and housing support.
· There is an intersection between the issues of homelessness and domestic and family violence which could be resolved with access to support e.g. access to Safe at Home Program, social welfare entitlements and temporary housing support.
· The barriers to access creates developmental trauma for children, including Australian citizens that are children of temporary visa holders.
· Homelessness is especially hidden in CALD and temporary visa holder communities as women stay in overcrowded or unstable accommodation rather than sleeping rough.
· There is a critical, urgent need for federal reform to address barriers to access for temporary visa holders to prevent further trauma, and an importance to the work of federal advocacy groups such as Harmony Alliance, a national alliance of migrant and refugee women’s organisations.
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