Submission to Inquiry into the Commonwealth Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Alternative formats available on request to PIAC - Contact PIAC
Submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Commonwealth Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
PIAC’s submission to this inquiry focused on three of our project areas: asylum seeker health rights; energy and water; and homelessness.
In terms of asylum seeker health rights, we highlight the need to minimise the risks of COVID-19 for people in held immigration detention, and especially people seeking asylum with pre-existing medical conditions.
In our view, people currently in held immigration detention who do not pose a high security risk should be transferred out of detention facilities to reside in community detention or on a bridging visa. Where people are not transferred out of immigration detention, at a minimum they should be provided with single rooms with their own bathroom facilities, and access to other measures to prevent transmission.
In terms of energy and water issues, our submission focuses on the need of vulnerable consumers, calling for the development of a national essential services assistance measure, in conjunction with energy and water providers. This should provide support to all households and small businesses impacted by the response to COVID-19, and in particular to address the accumulation of debt and arrears.
Finally, in relation to homelessness, we called for the Commonwealth to work with states and territories to develop a ‘rapid re-housing’ framework to re-house people experiencing homelessness, as well as a needs assessment framework as the basis for the provision of services, rather than designing services for particular cohorts or geographical areas.
Among a range of other measures, we recommend development of a national framework for tenancy legislation to work towards ending ‘no-grounds’ evictions nationally, as well as ensuring programs such as JobSeeker and JobKeeper are adequately funded to ensure recipients do not live in poverty.