Media Releases

Settlement Services International has welcomed the NSW Government’s decision to allow asylum seekers in NSW to apply for Opal Card travel concessions earlier than planned, with 15,000 asylum seekers living in NSW now able to apply for the travel benefit.

The travel concession, which was first scheduled to become available to eligible asylum seekers from January 1, allows people seeking asylum to access the same $2.50 all day travel benefit as other NSW concession cardholders.

 “This really is welcome news for our clients who until now have had to pay full public transport fares while living on limited income,” according to SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis.

 “The concession card is an early Christmas present for our clients. Having the concession card can mean savings of up to $12.50 per day, or $50 per week, for people seeking asylum.

Our clients will no longer be limited by transport costs, allowing them to access a broader range of social and community services.

“It will also help to improve the standard of living of the most vulnerable, which delivers a multitude of health and social benefits.”

Ms Roumeliotis also congratulated the efforts of NSW Premier Mike Baird, who championed the travel concessions for asylum seekers and announced the move earlier this year.

“We applaud Premier Baird for recognising the importance of this issue and helping to break down barriers facing vulnerable communities,” she said.

“Mobility is instrumental for participating more fully in society and it applies equally for people seeking asylum.”

Ms Roumeliotis added that the travel concessions will support the mental and physical health of individuals and families who are seeking asylum in Australia.

“The majority of asylum seekers based in NSW are often required to travel widely to access the services they need such as medical care, counselling services, English language lessons and other training courses,” she said.

“Providing a fixed travel fare allows asylum seekers to use more of their limited financial support to cover basic living expenses and to access vital services to enable them to recover from their experiences of persecution and trauma and start rebuilding their lives.”

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Media enquiries:

SSI Communications Coordinator, Louise Wallace 0488 680 255 or (02) 8799 6741.

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