A roundtable with Jodi Mckay MP- NSW Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister and Greg Warren MP- Shadow Minister for Western Sydney, Local Government and Veterans.

On the 26th October 2020, Western Sydney MRC took part in the Community roundtable with Jodi Mckay MP- NSW Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister and Greg Warren MP- Shadow Minister for Western Sydney, Local Government and Veterans. Alongside other NSW Settlement Partner organisations and community leaders, we advocated for issues impacting migrants and refugees in the South Western Sydney community.

Key issues that were raised by Western Sydney MRC included:  

  • Increased needs of temporary visa holders, particularly asylum seekers.  
  • The increased funding for Emergency Relief from Department of Social Services and grants provided by Multicultural NSW have been incredibly helpful to financial support those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and now have no access to government support. However, the latest Multicultural NSW funding has excluded asylum seekers and international students. Temporary visa holder needs are long-term and ongoing (rent/food/medicine) until they can again find continued employment, not just one-off support.  
  • The Digital divide: for many in our community, the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged an increase in digital uptake however we have seen many members of the community significantly struggle with the digital uptake, in particular mothers with young children and the elderly. Increased isolation and vulnerability in the form of abuse, as well as decreased ability to access vital Services (including health and mental health supports) that have moved online.  
  • Mental health needs of a multicultural community, the call from community members for mental health supports that are community imbedded, not just clinical responses. Western Sydney MRC has undertaken a co-design with men and women from various Iraqi communities who have experienced mental health challenges to create a community-driven support program for wellbeing.   
  • Changes in refugee intake from 18,750 are now at a ceiling of 13,750. Many individuals use the 202 visas to reunite with family and their inability due to the ceiling has contributed to stress, and further impacting mental health and wellbeing of the community.  
  • Community leaders have contributed significant time and resource on top of their paid/family life to support their communities. Community leaders need recognition and financial support for the work they have done to respond to COVID-19 in their communities. PeerLink– co-design with men and women who have been Mental Health challenges to create a support structure  

Jimmy Mtashar, a Mandaean Community leader, also took part in the roundtable and raised the following issues:   

  • The lack of public-school options in the Liverpool LGA with many primary schools at capacity   
  • Recognised the community response to the Crossroads Hotel outbreak and acknowledged the critical work community leaders undertook to ensure community members were tested, and isolation and social distancing as required.   

We like to thank Jodi Mckay and Greg Warrena for their time and feedback. I felt heard in this meeting and think that the MP’s had a strong understanding of the vital work not only our community leaders and active community members have played in the NSW Government’s COVID-19 response.

Jodi Mckay thanked the multicultural community leaders for all that they have done to ensure that the community have clear, up-to-date messaging around COVID-19.  Thank you to SSI for inviting us to participate in this roundtable.