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Status resolution support services SRSS

  • Background

    Status resolution support services (SRSS) is a program providing supports to non-citizens as their immigration status is resolved.  SRSS provides six levels (bands) of support

    • Bands 1 and 2 are for unaccompanied minors (band 1=held detention, band 2=community detention)
    • Band 3 is for people in community detention (as of 2020 - predominantly medical transfers from Nauru and Manus)
    • Band 4 is transitional support for people being released from detention
    • Band 5 is for vulnerable asylum seekers  
    • Band 6 is baseline support (the majority of people seeking asylum eligible for SRSS).

    In 2014, SRSS replaced the previous CAS – Community Assistance Support (established 2005, changed to band 5) and ASAS – Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (established 1992, changed to band 6) - see Department of Human Services information (which includes links to application forms) and 2018 policy manual (and the older 2017 policy manual and 2014 policy manual). Most (but not all) people on SRSS are individuals who arrived by boat and sought asylum and are in the community on a bridging visa E (BVE). 

    SRSS includes:

    • Casework - in Victoria, through Life Without Barriers and AMES (Red Cross previously provided services to this group until June 2018). 
    • Income support payments (equivalent to 89% of Newstart for asylum seekers in the community, and 60% of Newstart for those in community detention).
    • Access to torture-trauma counselling.

    Current issues

    SRSS - asylum seekers in the community on bridging visa E (BVE)

    From 2017, access to SRSS decreased for asylum seekers in the community on BVE. SRSS access stops if an asylum seeker:

    • Is working.
    • Has sent money overseas or received money from overseas while they were on SRSS payments (limit $1000).
    • Is granted a protection visa (in which case they become eligible for other welfare support).
    • Has a negative decision at the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA) - SRSS stops one week later.
    • Is assessed as being 'employment ready' by their SRSS provider based on criteria provided by Department of Home Affairs (DHA) - see VFST Fact Sheet (May 2018).
      • Assessment of SRSS eligibility in the BVE cohort occurred in mid 2018. The initial stages included assessment for adults who arrived alone, assessment of families with children does not have appeared to have progressed as of mid 2020. Initial indications were that:
        • Single parent families, with children under school age would not be removed from the SRSS program if they meet the usual program eligibility requirements.
        • Where there are two parents, an assessment would be made as to whether one of the parents has the ability to work. 
        • Individuals aged over 70 years of age would not be removed from the SRSS program if they meet the usual eligibility requirements.

    Clinicians should ensure SRSS providers and the DHA are aware of health status (with consent) to ensure accurate assessment of vulnerability by the DHA.

    SRSS - asylum seekers or refugees in community detention

    SRSS also applies for the cohort in community detention (band 3). For this group, SRSS stops if they transition to a final departure BVE (FDBVE) within a period of weeks. In August 2018 - this was one week for the first cohort to be granted a FDBVE (adults who arrived alone) and at that time was 4-6 weeks for families with children. These individuals have not had work rights since arrival in Australia (now 7 years), and our clinical experience is that they may be substantially unwell. For this group - clinicians should ensure International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), SRSS providers and the DHA are aware of health status (with consent) to ensure accurate assessment of vulnerability by the DHA. Timelines may be urgent where loss of SRSS support/payments poses immediate health and safety risk.

    • As of end September 2020 - people in community detention who have not engaged in the United States resettlement process are being transitioned onto a FDBVE - this has occurred in Queensland, NSW and South Australia, but not yet in Victoria with current restrictions. In this circumstance, housing is withdrawn after 3 weeks, and income support within 0-3 weeks (immediately for adults who arrived alone, and 3 weeks for families). A 3-week extension is possible, and this process is still in evolution. 

    Supports and pathways for people who have lost SRSS

    If loss of SRSS support payments poses immediate health and safety risks, and/or imminent destitution there are a number of supports and pathways available. 

    The Victorian government has provided support packages for this group - in both 2017 and also 2019-2020. The following list provides immediate connections for clinicians to find support, more comprehensive mapping is pending through the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre (ASRC) and the Refugee Council of Australia, and will be updated when available. Please also see Covid resources

    Individuals may re-apply for SRSS if their circumstances change - see DHA form 1445 (to get onto the program) and also Department of Social Services (DSS) information - this can also be used to apply for Medicare). If there are immediate concerns, the DHA advice is to contact service providers - see DHA list of service providers (and SRSS contact details below). It is not clear that this applies to people who are transitioned to a FDBVE.

    SRSS providers - contact details

    Immigrant health clinic resources, updated October 2020, contact: georgia.paxton@rch.org.au