Community rallies during great need

Joe Rechichi, second left, with Sting Gym representatives who donated food during the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Without Covid-19 welfare support, many community members are in dire need of help, Springvale Benevolent Society president Joe Rechichi says.

Such as the unemployed who hadn’t yet received Centrelink help, or asylum seekers and other new arrivals who were ineligible for any official help at all.

They were all at the mercy of charities to provide the basics such as food, Mr Rechichi said.

A Springvale primary school teacher recently forwarded him a list of 10 hungry families.

Among the list was a multi-family household of four adults and 10 children crammed in a three-bedroom home.

Mr Rechichi duly left food at their doorstep – keeping a ‘social distance’ due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“It’s sad to see people in that condition in this day and age.

“Organisations across the board are seeing the same thing. We’re all doing what we can.”

Refugee advocate Wicki Vikramasingham said many unsupported new arrivals had lost factory or restaurant work during the coronavirus lockdown.

“The Government should look at every human equally in this situation.

“This coronavirus is attacking every corner of the world. The Australian Government allow them to stay here so they should also help them live healthily.”

Asylum seekers faced an unknown wait on their application for Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) payments, while their cases to stay in Australia are before the courts.

Others suffering without help are unemployed international students, Mr Vikramasingham said.

“Some of them are really struggling to afford food – some mothers are working casual jobs in factories and can’t get any income assistance at this stage.”

Mr Rechichi was grateful to community support during the “critical time”.

He thanked the owners of Sting Gym, the Rotary clubs of Dandenong and Dingley, Bendigo Bank’s Dingley branch as well as “friends and residents” who had donated food parcels, supermarket vouchers and cash.

The charity also received some goods from Greater Dandenong Council’s $330,000 Covid-19 material aid package.

Recently, the Rotary Club of Dandenong has made sizeable cash donations to Springvale Benevolent Society and Dandenong-based charity Cornerstone.

Since responding to the Springvale charity’s call for help in winter 2019, the Rotary club had regularly dropped off food packages, clothing and toys, including at Christmas.

The club’s Leanne Byron said members had been collecting food items at Rotary meetings. But with social distancing, the meetings had gone on Zoom and so food collections became difficult.

“So the club provided a donation to Joe so can do what he can do.

“He does such a valiant job, with his band of volunteers.”

To help, call Mr Rechichi on 0409 249 881.