Refugee advocates celebrated today, as they publicly launched the Asylum Seeker Hub (ASH) Public Transport Concession.
Kim Ellwood, Acting Executive Director of the Office of Multicultural Interests opened proceedings, and said that 38 people have already been issued with the concession, which provides refugees and asylum seekers with a concession fare SmartRider, for use on Transperth services.
Hon Paul Papalia, WA Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, said that he is working on building support for refugees and asylum seekers in other areas as well.
“We’re working on similar types of concessions for training and education with regards to the cost people can front, and there is some advocacy going on with the Health Minister about health matters as well,” he said.
“I hope that in the new term there’ll be further action to ensure that people are better supported.
“We are very pleased to be able to come to the party and support people in this small way and we’ll look to do other things where we can,” he said.
Martin White, Executive Director Transperth System, Regional and School Bus Services at the Perth Transport Authority, helped lead the process to develop this new concession.
“At Transperth we recognise that we deliver an essential community service, and we also recognise that it’s a service that should be available to everyone,” he said.
“I think today, the celebration is about the people that have, for a long period of time, advocated for a very small group of people who didn’t have much of a voice of their own.
“Today is about acknowledging the people behind the scenes who kept saying the Transperth network should be for everyone. And with the introduction of this concession it truly is now,” he said.
Kate Leaney, from Welcoming Australia and also the Social Justice Unit at the Uniting Church WA, shared what this concession will mean for the people who have access to it.
“At the Asylum Seeker Hub here every Tuesday, we see people in extremely challenging situations accessing practical support, surrounded by people who – while unable to magically fix every difficult situation – are able to walk alongside them and offer care, practical solutions and support navigating the complexity of their circumstances,” she said.
“The introduction of transport concessions provides the opportunity for people to access vital services such as this.
“The ASH Concession Card doesn’t change everything, but it does achieve two things.
“On a logistical level, it ensures that people on low or no income can use more of their limited funds to cover other essential expenses like food, housing and healthcare, and assists them to access vital services and employment opportunities.
“And on a broader level, it conveys to people seeking safety that there are people in the community, through support agencies, as individuals and within State Government, who care.”
To apply for an ASH SmartRider, applicants need to reside in WA, not be in full time education or employment, and be holding or applying for a bridging visa as an asylum seeker, or appealing a determination of status as an asylum seeker.
Applicants can visit ASeTTS, CARAD, Australian Red Cross, The Humanitarian Group, Riverview Community Services, Welcoming Australia and Mercycare to complete their application before taking it to the Elizabeth Quay Bus Station Info Centre for submission.
Find out more on how to apply here.