Myths about Refugee’s and Asylum Seekers in Australia

Posted: June 21, 2010 in Human Rights, News, poverty
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

So recently i’ve heard some fasinating stories that refugee’s and asylum seekers here in Australia receive greater benefits from Centrelink than our ordinary citizens! WHOAH !! so what i’ve done is found the information so that you guys can educate yourselves and understand more about what is true and what is false. So here we go!

The circulation of myths and misinformation is one of the biggest barriers to understanding the issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers. Myths create confusion and can fuel conflict, resentment and disharmony.

Refugee Children and Family in Australia Dention Centre

MEDIA BLUNDERS

Refugees, asylum seekers and the Australians who support them have had to endure countless media articles full of inaccuracies and stereotypes. But sometimes media organisations go one step further and public information which is blatantly false. To see a full list of media releases in response to Media Blunders – CLICK HERE

Hoax Emails about Centrelink Benefits

In October 2007, ROCA issue a media release calling on Australians to ignore a hoax email which clamined that refugees receive more money from centrelink than age pensioners. Recently, a new hoax email, which claims that illegal immigrants and refugees receive higher rates of payment under a number of centrelink programs, has also been circulated. Both emails are blatantly inaccurate and intend to create resentment towards refugees and fuel disharmony.

The Refugee Council recommends that anhone receiving these hoax emails should delete them and inform the person who forwarded the email that the information it contains is false. A media release containing updated information and responding to the claims in the new hoax email can be found here.

Why the emails are inaccurate

MYTH: Refugees can receive social security payments simply because they are refugees.
FACT: A refugee who has premanent residency in Australia receives exactly the same social security benefit as any Australian born person in the same circumstances. Refugees apply for social security through centrelink like everyone else and are assessed for the different payment options in the same way as everyone else. There are no separate centrelink allowances that one can receive simply by virtue of being a refugee,nor do refugees receive cash payments under either the Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy (IHSS) or the settlement grants program (SGP).

MYTH: A single refugee receives $1458 more per month than an age pensioner.
FACT: A single person applying for a special benefit or the newstart allowance (whether he/she is a refugee or not) will receive $456 per fortnight, where as a single person on the age pension payment will receive a fortnightly payment of $671.90. A single age pensioner therefore receives over $200 per fortnight more than a single refugee (or a single Australian Born Person) who qualifies for special benefit or newstart – not $1458 per month less, as claimed in the first hoax email. Australian citizens and permanent residents with dependent children on lower to middle incomes (including refugees) may also be eligible to recieive family tax benefit or parenting payments, however none of these allowances are paid at a higher rate than the single age pension.

MYTH: Refugees receive higher rates of payment under the centrelink programs than age pensioners or other australians.
FACT: Centrelink payments are calculated at exactly the same rate for both refugees and non-refugees (for instance, a single australian born person and a single refugee on the newstart allowance would both receive exactly the same payment of $456). The hoax emails which claims that illegal immigrants and refugees receive higher rates of payment than age pensions under a number of centrelink programs, including the partner allowance and the hardship allowance, quotes figures which are grossly inaccurate. For instance, a single person on an Age Pension payment receives a fortnight payment of $671.90, not $253 as claimed in the email and the maximum payment for the partner allowance is $411.50 not $472.50 as claimed.

MYTH: Asylum seekers can receive centrelink payments.
FACT: Asylum seekers are NOT entitled to the same forms of financial support as citizens or permanent residents. The asylum seeker assistance (ASA)Scheme provides assistance to eligible asylum seekers who are in the process of haaving their refugee status determined. The ASA Scheme offers income support to cover basic living expenses, paid at 89 percent of the centrelink special benefit. This would equal approximately $405.84 per fortnight for a single asylum seeker – over $260 less than a single pension.

MYTH: Illegal Immigrants can receive centrelink payments.
FACT: In general, only Australian citizens and permanent residents can receive social security payments from centrelink and illegal immigrants would certainly not be entitled to such support. It is also factually incorrect to refer Recognised refugees in australia by defintiion hold either a refugee visa or protection visa, both of which entitle the holder to permanent residency. Asylum seekers – regardless of how they arrive in Australia – are permitted under australian and international law to enter australia for the purpose of seeking asylum, therefor asylum seekers have not broken any law and should not be referred to as illegal immigrants.

Further Reading:
Statements about the hoax emails have been issued by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Minister for human services. These statements can be found here

Information on the IHSS can be found HERE

Information on the SGP can be found HERE

Information on the ASA Scheme can be found HERE

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