Currently approximately 10,500 individuals are seeking asylum in Victoria.
Those receiving an SRSS allowance, after cost of living deductions have approximately $20 a week to spend on food, relying heavily on plain rice and instant noodles, a nutritionally inadequate diet. Access to regular food bank support is further complicated due to limited monthly access, the requirement of a health care card, and the cultural relevance of the food offered.
What is also little known is that once an asylum seeker receives an SRSS allowance, they are ineligible to access food support from many charitable organisations, leaving the ASRC the main source of food bank support. Currently the ASRC is only able to provided food bank support to roughly 600 individuals, leaving thousands to fend for themselves.
So how can we make a difference? Ultimately we want to take quick action, and we know that the best way to do this is to collaborate with the communities and the organisations that know the problems inside out. We are service providers to them, and in turn, can help those most in need. Meet our amazing partners.
Whittlesea Community Connections.
Making a positive difference everyday
The three main concentrations of refugee settlement are Melton 39%, Casey/Dandenong 31% and Whittlesea/Hume 27%. The ASRC provides invaluable service to the Melton and Casey regions, leaving the Whittlesea region heavily under resourced with regards to support services.
Meetings with caseworkers at Whittlesea we found an urgent critical need for basic food support amongst newly arrived and longer term asylum seekers unable to access employment.
The passion of the caseworkers, coupled with the amazing reslilance and strength of spirit as witnessed by us amongst the refugees and asylum seekers now residing in Whittlesea spurred us into action.
The Whittlesea Community Connections became our first partner in the ifeed project. Every food voucher generated will go directly to individuals asylum seekers making their home in Whittlesea
The Community Grocer
Weekly affordable fresh food markets
With direct access to nutritious fresh food and vegetables that are culturally relevant being the number one challenge currently faced by asylum seekers, our next challenge was to find an organistion willing to partner with us on the solution.
We found the Community Grocer, currently running weekly fresh produce markets in Victorian communities, their vision is for all citizens to have access to quality, affordable, healthy fruit and vegetables.
With produce 50% cheaper than surrounding outlets, our second strategic partnership was formed.
So what will we do?
Ifeed refugees believe in a fairer and inclusive society where everyone in Australia has access to fresh fruit and culturally relevant produce. We use the profits for a purpose so that we can provide frontline services in Whittlesea, a major resettlement zone for newly arrived Syrian refugees, with vouchers for fresh fruit and vegetables. Our pilot project aims to fund weekly fruit and vegetables for 6 weeks, for 20 individuals. To achieve this we will sell Tees and Bags to generate the vouchers to go directly to a refugee in crisis. These vouchers are redeemable at a Community Grocer weekly market.
If successful, we will continue to raise the bar, by creating a social enterprise focussed on filling the gap left by the government's policy decisions. Any remaining profit will be reinvested back into the running costs of ifeed refugees. This will allow us to build a sustainable enterprise.