An emergency relief effort has targeted isolated refugees subject to family violence during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since 30 April, inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence and charities have delivered 342 relief packs including more than $20,000 of food in Melbourne.
As part of the inSpire program, 91 clients – and a further 110 family members – have shared 739 weeks’ worth of food.
The deliveries are also a chance for social interaction for some of the most isolated households in iso.
Like many, mother-of-two Liana – not her real name – was in a critical situation.
As a migrant ineligible for JobKeeper or JobSeeker, her life crumbled when she was let go from work at the start of Covid-19.
With mounting stresses, she endured increasingly severe family violence.
In a temporary refuge without family support, Liana called the relief packs a “lifeline”.
“I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t help but cry.
“That night, I cooked my daughter’s favourite meal and for the first time in weeks we sat together as a family to eat and talk, with a smile on our faces.”
inTouch chief executive Michal Morris said case managers received a 36 per cent surge in requests for help during Covid-19 – 8,490 contacts between April-June.
Of particular concern were the number of requests for financial assistance due to loss of income, Ms Morris said.
“A significant number of our clients like Liana, are on temporary visas and are ineligible for government income support, including stimulus initiatives implemented in response to COVID-19.
“This has left many of our clients and their children in an even more vulnerable position.
“Not only are they experiencing family violence and trying to seek safety and stability during the current climate, but they need support to meet even their most basic day-to-day needs.”
An inTouch case manager said the relief packs took pressure off clients worried about putting food on the table.
“Clients have told me they feel like they haven’t been forgotten in the community, and are being acknowledged.
“It gives them a sense of dignity.”
The relief packs include culturally appropriate, seasonal and locally sourced fresh fruit, vegetables and staple pantry items.
Up-to-date information on Covid-19 has also been provided in the packs, in the women’s own languages.
InTouch will also provide 2000 reuseable masks made by not-for-profit social enterprise The Social Studio, which employs refugees and new-arrived migrants.