Peter Khalil: The government’s changes to eligibility requirements for the Status Resolution Support Services program expose over 12,000 highly vulnerable people to unnecessary and cruel loss of support. The Minister for Home Affairs continues his attacks on some of the most vulnerable people in Australia and is incapable of even explaining why and when his cruel cuts to the SRSS program will occur and who they will affect. The minister first approved some of these changes in February and, despite persistent questioning by Labor on this side, he still hasn’t explained just how many of the 12,000 people currently receiving this assistance are going to lose their access to their support because of his decision.
Many vulnerable people, asylum seekers who have experienced horrific persecution, receive this vital assistance while they wait for the Department of Home Affairs to resolve their immigration status or make a decision on their visas. I’ve met with representatives from the NGO community including the Salvation Army, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce and the Refugee Council of Australia, to name a few. They’re deeply concerned about the impact that these changes will have on so many people.
The shadow minister has written to the home affairs minister on behalf of Labor asking him to explain his actions. We do not support the arbitrary, unjustified and haphazard way that Peter Dutton, the minister, has gone about cutting support to these people. He’s done it with the stroke of a pen. He should stop politicising and playing politics with vulnerable people and reverse those cuts immediately.