At Fair Food many of our colleagues live with the constant low level fear of losing their job or their migration status.

If you’ve come to Australia as an asylum seeker you don’t get permanent residency any more instead you get a three year Temporary Protection Visa which you’ll need to keep renewing.

Services available to “regular” migrants like social security, English classes, access to housing aren’t given to asylum seekers.

It’s heartbreaking to see a workmate cut-off from their partner, children and parents because asylum seekers are not allowed to apply for a family reunion visa.

It’s like we’re saying you can come here but you’ll never be one of us.

During the COVID-19 crisis we knew if Fair Food closed over a third of our 55 workers wouldn’t get JobKeeper or JobSeeker and would struggle to pay rent & utilities, buy food, afford transport.

Our friends at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre have reported a three-fold increase in people seeking their support.

It’s the same story for many of the two million temporary and student visa holders who are here working in our restaurants, service stations, delivery services, farms, abattoirs, construction sites and our sex industry.

When the pandemic hit our Government said we needed to take care of Australians first and temporary workers should go home – I’m not sure where unemployed asylum seekers were supposed to go.

Our migration story used to be you came to Australia worked in an entry level job, saved your money, bought a house, raised a family and created a secure future for your kids to thrive.

Now, unless you’re a professional or have a lot of money, the story these days is, come here do your entry level job, pay your taxes and go back to where you came from when your temporary work visa runs out.

If it wasn’t before, COVID-19’s made it abundantly clear who gets a fair go and who doesn’t.

And when I look around, the people a fair go doesn’t seem to apply to are inevitably people of colour.

In the past two weeks the murder of George Floyd has shone a bright light on racial injustice in the US and now onto Indigenous deaths in custody here in Australia. 

While we’re shining lights let’s look at the way we treat people who come to our community seeking asylum or work as unskilled migrants.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Annual Telethon is happening this June 20th. 


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