Mauricio and Ani
Mauricio* and four month pregnant Ani* arrived in Melbourne at the beginning of winter in 2023 with their children Sofia* and Lucas* seeking asylum.
“I come from a family of humble people who worked hard their whole lives, but the situation in our country got so difficult and dangerous that almost all our family had to escape. My mother was a political activist and she fought for human rights in the last 20 years of her life until the fight itself took her away from us. We were no longer safe and the persecution was taking a big toll on Ani and me”.
Since their arrival life had not been easy after submitting their protection application. They ended up on a Bridging Visa without work rights or access to Medicare for the first few months.
Their work rights and access to Medicare were granted right before the birth of their youngest, Oli*.
Although this eased the situation covering the majority of the expenses for the birth, Ani had a history of health complications seriously impacting her health since Oli’s birth, which has strained Mauricio who is now the full-time carer for their oldest children.
Mauricio’s family is currently receiving integral support from the ASRC: material aid in the form of nappies for the baby, Myki top-ups to move around, mobile credit and some utilities. They also get their fortnightly groceries from the ASRC Foodbank and while it’s difficult to travel with two children under six, Mauricio says “When you have nothing, you can present the world to your kids as an adventure, not as another thing to be sad. I appreciate we can come to this colourful building that feels warm to pick up food and other things. When we come, we count the pigeons at the train station and we have learned to imitate the seagulls just like in Nemo” and the three of them make the seagull cry at the same time.
The family enjoys their Thursday trips to the ASRC in Footscray because they get to have a meal at the community dinner. “We’ve made friends with other refugee families with kids and our kids play together when we come to the centre and share a table for lunch. My kids are still learning English and I like to let them sit with other kids to chat. We parents often don’t speak the best English, but the kids have a different chip and in just a few months they start to sound more Australian than Steve Irwin… hey mate”, says Mauricio mimicking his son Lucas.
*Names changed to protect the identity of people seeking asylum
Remember, after you prepare these dishes –
share them with your friends and raise the flag of
inclusion and welcome for every single migrant
Hajira* is a young woman with a baby who was living in a shed. She is a survivor of family violence and separated from her ex-partner after a violent incident a year ago and a shed at the back of someone's house was her only option. Hajira’s child’s father resides in Australia but does not offer any financial or parenting support. Contact is limited through an IVO.
Hajira came to Australia with her husband on a student visa in 2015. Her husband had promised her a better life in Australia where she could study what she wanted. She had always been interested in studying commerce and also learning more English.
Hajira advised of facing physical and mental abuse and neglect from her husband all along in her home country and in Australia. She had hoped this would improve when they arrived in Australia, but the abuse continued and Hajira’s husband’s relatives who were living in Australia also joined in abusing Hajira. When Hajira found out that she was pregnant, she hoped that this would change the family’s attitude towards her, but this did not happen.
Her friend, who had also experienced domestic violence, told her about a service she could access which she called for help. Her friend also provided her with a contact from her friend’s workplace who was willing to house Hajira in a shed at the back of their house if she contributed board and money for bills. While she had left the immediate danger, Hajira was living with the ongoing impacts of abuse, and with a baby on the way she felt immense stress of what would happen to her and her child.
The ASRC helped Hajira lodge her application for a protection visa and she was granted Bridging Visa E with No Work rights and No Study rights.
Hajira experiences depression and symptoms of PTSD relating to the trauma of her experience of family violence both overseas and in Australia. Hajira is faced with deciding whether to pay for her own mental health medication or to feed her daughter with the little money she made from her cleaning jobs. For some of these jobs, she must go into some private residences alone, which can cause her stress given her previous experiences.
The ASRC assists Hajira with food and material aid and baby items. ASRC caseworker advocated for Hajira and referred her to the housing program that approved short term crisis accommodation. Our health program supports Hajira through regular counselling, as well as providing access to the medication she has been prescribed to address the acute PTSD symptoms she lives with every day.
*Name changed to protect the identity of people seeking asylum