5-11 September is National Child Protection Week. For Australian citizens and permanent residents, government financial support is triggered when adults with dependents experience homelessness, because of the child protection concerns it raises.
The same doesn’t always happen for refugees and people seeking asylum. This means the safety and wellbeing of our community’s most vulnerable members is further jeopardised when they flee their home because of domestic and family violence. Unlike other members of the community, these individuals face the challenge of finding somewhere safe to live with limited or no income, while looking for ways to support themselves and their dependents, without access to affordable childcare.
Lela* has been a House of Welcome client since May 2020. We invited her to share some of her insights about the additional barriers single parents face as asylum seekers.
What role has House of Welcome played in supporting you since your arrival in Australia?
House of Welcome gave me a lifeline. I was needing to exit crisis accommodation, and at a time when I didn’t know what to do or where to start, they got myself and my newborn on our feet. Living in House of Welcome transitional accommodation has provided me with affordable accommodation and access to casework support. This 12-month period has allowed me to live in a safe home and given me time to plan and save for my future, and move towards independent living.
What were some of the key challenges you have faced in building your new life?
As a single mum, the main challenge I face is how I can financially support myself and my child. Taking care of my finances is important for us to live a better life but being separated from family, I don’t have anyone to leave my child with while I work. Without being able to access affordable childcare, it is impossible to secure employment.
Sourcing affordable housing is another challenging aspect when building a new life in Australia.
What other types of assistance would help you on your journey?
Childcare. Affordable childcare that mothers, especially single mothers who find themselves with no one to pass the baton to, would go a long way. It is impossible to go back to the workforce because I can’t access childcare or it is too expensive.
What do you hope for in the future?
I definitely do hope for a brighter future. I hope for a future where I have safety and permanency in Australia, am settled and able to provide for my child and fully support myself financially.
I hope that I am able to give my child everything she needs and more. I hope to be happier and healthier and enjoy seeing my little one grow and enjoy every other moment along the way.
What message would you share with other women in a similar situation to you?
I would love to tell other women in my situation that I believe it gets better…It might take a while but eventually…
I am not there yet, but am hopeful. So let’s hold on tight and keep pushing, even on days we feel tired and lost, even when we don’t know what we doing.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
Published with collaboration from House of Welcome.
This article highlights a story from the “Diocesan Journey… Walking with Refugees and People Seeking Protection”. Click here to learn more about this initiative and to follow our 14-weeks campaign from Refugee Week to World Day of Migrants and Refugees.