Jess Davidson, our HopeStreet Women's Services Manager, reflects on what 2020 has meant for women on temporary visas.

Here in the city of Sydney, I’ve been reminded of the incredible resilience of humanity. I’ve seen women share the limited food they have, so no one goes hungry. I’ve seen women share accommodation with those who have become homeless. I’ve seen women band together, encouraging each other, and finding solutions for alternative employment.

Our system is broken when basic human rights of food, safety and shelter can’t be accessed due to the status of your visa. BaptistCare HopeStreet Women’s Services has provided essential supports to women on temporary visas throughout the pandemic, while having the presence of staff that speak Mandarin and Thai has been imperative for women to feel safe and supported.

Many of the women we work with, particularly migrant women in the sex industry, have faced economic devastation during COVID-19. With an industry shut down, no access to government support and language barriers amplifying the feelings of isolation, many women were left feeling alone and destitute.

What do they do? They’re not eligible for JobSeeker, there are limited refuge places available for them due to their visa and lack of income support, even when their partner is violent, and they can’t access medical care when assaulted. We’ve seen a significant increase in women needing support when they experience domestic violence. Many are financially reliant on abusive partners.

Through HopeStreet emergency relief, we’ve been able to provide food and vouchers to assist women in meeting their basic needs. We’ve helped them navigate complex systems and find tangible solutions.

While organisations like ours are important, and the strength of these women is incredible, a greater change is needed. We need to see government policy support extended to women on temporary visas, and importantly, ensure that a visa status isn’t the determining factor for women experiencing violence.

Giving to HopeStreet makes a tangible difference to real people; it means we can give support when there are no options available. Visit hopestreet.com.au/donate

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Jess Davidson

Manager, HopeStreet Women's Services