My name is Shanika.
I am seeking asylum here in Australia and have been living here for about 2 years. I am on a bridging visa while I wait which allows me to work full time. When I first arrived, I struggled to find a job for six months, even though I have a lot of work experience. Many people wouldn't give me a job because of my visa status. It was a real struggle.
After six months I found a job as a Beauty Advisor in a make-up retailer. I worked as a permanent part-time employee for 1 year and 3 months before COVID-19 hit Australia. I was stood down in March due to the pandemic and have been unable to return to work. Before this, I had never felt any difference between me and the other people I worked with. I have always been treated equally by my managers and fellow employees, and my visa status has never mattered.
I felt a huge relief when I first heard about the JobKeeper payment - I would have some support and a job waiting for me after COVID-19. But when I saw the eligibility, I was so upset and disappointed to know that I would not be included because of my visa status. During this hard time, I felt vulnerable to know that I and many temporary visa holders get no financial support from the government at this time. I have worked with the same employer for more than a year and I have paid my taxes like all my colleagues. I cannot go back to my home country as the government suggests, it is too dangerous.
Not only have I been stood down and can't access JobKeeper, but I also can't access JobSeeker. I literally have no way to get support.
Australia has always protected me, helped me to have a better future. I am grateful for all the support, freedom and love this country offers. During this hard time as refugees, we really need support to build our lives to face this situation.
I hope we can stand with each other at this time of need. We are in this together.