SSI acknowledged the financial hardships faced by many of its clients by providing lunch prepared by chef Tony Sharpe for 50 SSI clients at its Community Kitchen in Ryde, during Anti-Poverty Week in October.
The SSI clients who attended the Community Kitchen are in Australia living in the community, many on bridging visas, while they await their assessment for permanent visas.
Most are not entitled to seek employment and receive 89% of the Newstart allowance which equates to $445.89 a fortnight.
This amount is less than $358 per week (50% of median disposable household income, minus housing costs), the benchmark used to define the poverty line as reported in the “Poverty in Australia” report published by ACOSS in 2012.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis explained that SSI strives to alleviate the pressures felt by many of its clients.
“SSI funds several community and stakeholder integration and engagement programs which go beyond its contractual requirements to provide the extra support needed by SSI refugee and asylum seeker clients,” said Ms Roumeliotis.
Tony Sharpe was asked to prepare a meal costing $5 per serve, which is often more than the allocated budget of a person living in poverty, as food is one of the first things that is sacrificed in order to pay for other essential expenses.
“Poverty can also be measured by social exclusion and this is something keenly felt by many of our clients who struggle with resources and the access required to function in society,” said Ms Roumeliotis.
“SSI does what it can to help clients maintain their dignity, alleviate the hardships, and uphold their human rights,” she added.
Vouchers, provided by Hillsong, to the value of $8000 were also distributed to SSI clients during the week to provide financial respite.