What Welfare Entitlements do Asylum Seekers receive?

There is no truth to the claims that asylum seekers and refugees receive more in Centrelink benefits than old-age pensioners, or any other member of Australian society. Asylum seekers are not eligible to receive Centrelink benefits   while their asylum claims are being processed, although a small number of community-based asylum seekers receive  financial assistance through the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme, which is funded by The Department of   Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). The payment rate for eligible asylum seekers under this scheme is $230 a fortnight less than the Aged Pension.

People released on Bridging visas will also receive this ASAS payment until they find work. out of this payment they will pay rent , food and all expenses. They have no access to any Federally funded services such as employment assistance, housing etc.   There are discussions about access to vocational English classes to help them be safe in the workplace but this is not yet settled. 

What is Happening?
Over the past few years misinformation about Centrelink benefits paid to refugees and asylums seekers has  circulated through emails and online forums. Most common is the untrue claim that refugees receive more in
Centrelink payments than old-age pensioners.

The Key Issues
 Press releases from both Centrelink and DIAC assert that there is no truth to these claims. As a DIAC spokesperson stated in May 2009, “The figures … bear no resemblance to financial assistance to asylum seekers and refugees settling in Australia. The text and figures in the email appear to have originated in Canadian emails, websites and internet chatrooms.” Asylum seekers in Australia awaiting decision on their protection claims are not eligible for Centrelink.   However, DIAC provide payments to certain asylum seekers awaiting processing who are suffering severe financial   hardship. In 2009, 2,692 asylum seekers qualified for this payment.  The Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (ASAS),   funded by DIAC and administered by the Red Cross, provides the main source of income support and other social   services for community-based asylum seekers suffering financial hardship.  The maximum fortnightly Newstart payment for a single person with no children is $462.80 (as at 1July 2010).   Accordingly, the maximum payment a single asylum seeker can receive under ASAS is $411.89 a fortnight.

Let people know the truth when they ask and help keep a sense of perspective when the rabid Conservatives start raving their nonsense.

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