Safety and Stability
A sense of being free from danger and upheaval is crucial to an individual’s ability to adjust to life in a new community and to embrace new challenges. It’s particularly important for SSI’s clients, many of whom have experienced trauma and conflict, or may face prejudice with regard to their race, sexuality or gender identity.
Under the Safety and Stability domain of our Outcomes Framework, we aim over the long term to help people to live in safe, stable and affordable environments and to have access to services that support safe, stable and secure lives. This includes individuals receiving education around their rights and the role of our justice system, and also receiving support to seek assistance when needed.
Our interim goals are to ensure people are supported to understand, navigate and access safe, accessible and affordable housing or care. We also aim to support people to understand and identify threats to their personal safety.
Below are examples of programs that contribute to Safety and Stability outcomes for our clients. Each program may also contribute to one or more of our other delivery outcomes.
Humanitarian Settlement Program
The federal government’s Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) provides settlement support to families and individuals who have been granted a permanent visa under Australia’s humanitarian program. SSI is a key provider of HSP services, and the program represents a major part of the organisation’s revenue and activities.
During FY2020, we supported over 9,800 clients, with some 4,600 clients arriving during the financial year itself. The HSP team supported over 1,150 clients’ families to secure long-term accommodation over the financial year. Over 280 of these were secured after March 2020 despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 lockdown.
From mid-March, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a halt in HSP arrivals, with no further clients arriving before the end of the fiscal year. Lockdown conditions required the HSP team to pivot and alter the way it delivered services. Clients were assisted in understanding COVID-19 restrictions and steps were taken to ensure clients had access to appropriate medical care. Orientation sessions for clients shifted from being conducted in group sessions to a one-to-one basis.
This year marked SSI’s first full year resettling families in the new settlement location of Armidale. We partnered with Dr Sue Watt from the University of New England on research that monitored community attitudes towards refugee settlement in Armidale.
Through a series of pulse surveys, Dr Watt has assessed the attitudes, feelings and response to the arrival of refugees in the region. The majority of the findings highlight a positive and enthusiastic attitude towards refugees settling in Armidale. At each cluster analysis, the attitudes and understandings increased in positivity.
We believe one of the contributors to this success has been SSI’s self-funded Community Engagement representatives, and we are quantifying this in new research due out in the current financial year.
Status Resolution Support Services
The federal government’s Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) program provides support to people seeking asylum who are living in the community on temporary visas while their status as a refugee is assessed. The support provided can include temporary accommodation, income support and case management. We are a service provider through SSI in NSW and Access in Queensland, and help people seeking asylum to connect with essential services in the community and secure their own long-term accommodation in the private rental market. Case managers support individuals and families until their visa status is resolved.
In NSW in FY2020, 986 asylum seekers were supported, and of these, 79 gained employment. The asylum seekers who remain on SSI’s SRSS program have significant barriers to employment including mental health, physical health, domestic violence and child protection issues.
People in this category faced significant challenges following the COVID-19 shutdown as many lost jobs and they did not qualify for welfare measures like JobKeeper and JobSeeker. In response, we successfully advocated with other organisations and received funding from the NSW government to provide emergency relief payments to asylum seekers who were ineligible for SRSS. In NSW, SSI also supported clients through its affordable and social enterprise grocer, Staples Bag, and the food rescue charity Oz Harvest, delivering food to asylum seekers ineligible for SRSS support. This was funded through community donations and grants provided by Commonwealth Bank and Welcome2Sydney.
Building Stronger Families
Building Stronger Families is an accredited men’s behaviour change program, which has been adapted to a range of languages and cultures. The initiative is funded by Women NSW and is a joint innovation project by SSI and Relationships Australia NSW. Participants discuss domestic and family violence, family dynamics, and their own roles in conflicts.
In FY2020, the program worked with 13 men who attended groups and casework sessions. Partner support, which is optional for partners, was provided to 11 women. Seven SSI staff from other programs have been involved in the program and have received significant training in domestic and family violence work and group facilitation. The SSI Project Coordinator conducted more than 40 consultations with community leaders, community members and service providers about how to best adapt the program for the benefit of the communities we are working with.
Domestic and Family Violence support services
Run via Access in Queensland, 99 Steps is a support service for culturally and linguistically diverse individuals and families affected by domestic and family violence. During the year, 99 Steps supported 152 women with services including finding placements in refuges, court support, case management and psychoeducation. 99 Steps has assisted several clients in obtaining permanent residency for women on spousal visas through the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service.
In NSW, SSI collaborated with the University of Wollongong in a research project aimed at identifying and addressing domestic violence experienced by newly arrived refugee women and children. The three-year study aims to implement a model for identifying and responding to domestic violence. It will adapt and test family and domestic violence screening, risk assessment and safety planning tools along with individual support and case co-ordination.
SSI delivers services under the federal government’s Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme. The scheme exists to ensure the most vulnerable members of our community have the ability to apply for asylum if they are unable to return to safety in their home country.
In FY2020, SSI assisted 77 per cent more family units/individuals to navigate through the process of applying for asylum in Australia than in the previous 12 month period.
In FY2020, we achieved the following measurable outcomes:
5,584 clients were supported in their journey to have safe stable and secure lives;
1,234 cases achieved long-term accommodation;
986 asylum seekers were supported through SSRS, with 79 of these individuals gaining employment;
152 women were supported through the Access 99 steps program with services including finding placements in refuges, court support, case management and psychoeducation.