Tasmania acknowledges contribution of temporary visa holders, extends support

Temporary visa holders in the state of Tasmania breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday after the state government announced its decision to extend support towards the community of 26,000 or so.

“We understand there are a significant number of temporary visa holders in Tasmania who have lost their jobs due to the restrictions in place to protect Tasmanians, and we know they are experiencing hardship and income loss as a result” Peter Gutwein, Premier of Tasmania said while announcing a four step process to assist those who are affected.

  1. Extension of eligibility for Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants: Immediate payment of $250 per individual or up to $1000 per family who can demostrate genuine financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
  2. Additional funding to non-government organisations to provide additional emergency relief and assistance where required.
  3. Provide travel advice and financial support to help people return home when it is safe to do so.
  4. Work with industry sectors or employers who want to retain their employees because of their specialist skills in the State for when their business is able to start up again. Provide additional support in partnership with them so that TAS does not lose skilled workers.

As per Premier Gutwein ‘up to $3 million will be allocated towards this initiative’.

As per Punam Panta, President of Nepali Society of Tasmania (NeST) and State Coordinator for FeNCAA, “Wednesday’s announcement has put temporary residents anxious about the economic fallout of the health emergency at ease”.

Panta, who had been advocating for the inclusion of temporary residents in the state’s plan also said she is thankful to the Tasmanian government for recognising the plight of temporary visa holders, and extending support. She also stressed upon the importance of collaboration via networking;

“NeST, along with 16 other community organisations collectively advocated for the welfare of temporary visa holders – which I believe had an impact upon the government. The organisations collectively represented multicultural Australia, and one unified voice was better than several individual voices”, she said expressing great happiness upon the decision of the Tasmanian government.

Panta also said that “while this is an important first step, we still have a long way to go. As the health crisis extends, the pledged amount may not cover the costs entirely”.

Like in most states, Tasmania has announced strict social-distancing measures to combat the health emergency posed by COVID-19.  As a result of the measures, several non-essential workers have either lost their jobs or had their shift hours reduced – permanent and temporary residents alike. This has affected the financial well-being of several households in the state – the recongition by the Premier has instilled a sense of inlcusion within temporary residents. Earlier, on Tuesday, the government of South Australia had an AUD 13.8 million assistance to affected international students. 

For information on emergency support, such as the Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants, visit: www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/stimulus-and-support/household/emergency-support-for-vulnerable-tasmanians.