When Mayan visited the SSI office she presented as a bright young woman in her 20s who spoke with great eloquence.
After arriving in Australia in late 2018, Mayan worked as a receptionist and then as a cleaner. She has been actively searching for work since December 2019.
Mayan visited the office to collect a care package of general supplies and food, plus a $50 everyday voucher. When asked about her current situation, Mayan’s eyes instantly welled with tears. The young woman lowered her head and said, “It has been so hard, so hard.”
“I have been really trying. I try to find work every day. I try and I try but it is so hard. I do not know what to do, what can I do? I am on the verge of homelessness; I am going crazy. I have been on a waiting list for a woman’s refuge for two months they finally told me that they cannot take me because I am not a resident and I don’t get Centrelink. My life has become so different, you know. One minute I have a normal life and now I am at the bottom of the rung. I am surrounded by people going crazy. I am surrounded by homeless people. It is so hard. I have been living in a shared room with five other women, it is too crowded, it is dirty.”
As Mayan spoke, she began to weep.
“I am sorry I did not come here to cry. I have been holding this in for months, it is so hard. I cannot talk to anybody - you are the first person I have spoken to about this. I just keep bottling everything up inside.
“I cannot talk to my family, why should they worry more. I see people in my community, I cannot talk to them. Our community is breaking apart. I see some people getting Jobseeker and JobKeeper who just sit around and do nothing all day. I keep trying but the Bridging Visa makes it harder to gain employment.
“Everyone says we are only employing people with Permanent Residency or Citizenship. They are worried I won’t stay long. I think ok I will go for a job in hospitality, but for that I need an RSA, I have to pay for it, I have no money to pay.
“I am trying so hard. I can’t even top up my Opal card. I came here for protection, but I have not found protection, I am going to be on the street.”
*Image and name changed to protect the individual's identity.