Our COVID-19 Response and Priorities
Sydney Alliance has been working really hard to respond to challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Here is a snapshot of the diverse work we’ve done so far:
1. Sydney Alliance local organising conversations - relationships and coordination in a pandemic.
These conversations are about bringing people together to share their covid-19 experience and get organised for recovery and reconstruction for the common good! They have developed from initial conversations about the new world of COVID-19 and now are ways for people to organise locally on range of different issues.
- To get connected in St George, Sutherland, North Shore, Randwick, Sutherland Shire, Ryde, Surry Hills, Hills Shire, Camden, Wollondilly, Parramatta, Hornsby and Marrickville contact firstname.lastname@example.org:
- In Cumberland & Blue Mountains contact email@example.com
- In Fairfield contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to get organised in your area? Contact Lead Organiser David- email@example.com
2. Sydney Alliance & united civil society win $20m in emergency measures for international students in NSW, $6m for temporary migrants (and 7m Federally for Red Cross).
Following a concerted campaign of Alliance partners, in collaboration with other civil society organisations, the State Government announced the $21M measures on Friday 15 May. Later in June an announcement of $6M for temporary migrants and asylum seekers.
Alliance actions have included over 6 key media stories, over 300 pieces of written correspondence and over 100 direct lobbying conversations with NSW Government members
The measures include support for accommodation and legal services but no direct payments.
Over the last fortnight, Alliance partners mounted a campaign to maintain the pressure on the NSW Government.
Thanks to the following partner organisations and groups for all your hard work;
- International students themselves via Sydney Community Forum, the Alliance internship, Sisters of St Joseph, Jesuit Refugee Services, United Workers Union, Uniting, Uniting Church Synod of NSW & ACT, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, St Francis Social Services, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, ParraCAN, Vinnies NSW, Settlement Services International, Strathfield-Homebush Uniting Church, Rouse Hill Community Baptist Church, West Ryde Community Church and many others who have been taking an active role in this campaign.
During the process of organising these emergency measures, this is one of the stories we have heard from international students. Please note that this story discusses such topics as severe financial stress and health difficulties.
I am an international student from Nepal studying IT in a private college and working for a cleaning company but due to this covid-19 most of the sites I clean have been closed down.
I came to Australia in January 2019 with my wife as a dependant and I work part-time as a cleaner while I’m studying.
My wife became pregnant in June last year and since then, she is not working because of a medical condition that’s complicated her pregnancy so we couldn’t save. We recently had our baby (26 March) but because of COVID19, now there is very little work for me and we are going through very hard time.
We won’t be able to pay rent and manage groceries if the situation remains the same in the coming weeks. I hope there is some help available to help us to survive this terrible time. I don't know where to go for help or if anyone will help us international students and I’m desperate to get more work so I can support my family. Thank you
The Alliance is supporting ongoing campaigning for an increase in Federal support for this group of people facing destitution in Australia.
3. Open Letter to Energy Retailers: Bills Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic
During these difficult times, the Sydney Alliance penned an open letter to AGL, EnergyAustralia, Origin Energy, Alinta Energy and Red Energy calling on them to provide proactive assistance to customers doing it tough.
The measures we are calling for are:
- ensure payment support and other forms of assistance are open to any customer having trouble paying their bills;
- confirm unequivocally that no customers will be disconnected without their agreement during the COVID-19 pandemic till at least 31 July 2020;
- pause debt collection proceedings until at least 31 July;
- waive penalty and late fees, including additional interest charges; and
- communicate clearly the forms of assistance available to their customers, simplify the processes required to access assistance, and put in place proactive measures to reach out to people who are late with their payments.
Read our Open Letter signed by diverse civil society organisations and keep updated about energy retailers responses here: https://www.sydneyalliance.org.au/covid-19bills
Read our Op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald about our concerns of bills stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic here: https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-next-hip-pocket-pandemic-challenge-will-be-how-to-pay-soaring-power-bills-20200414-p54jov.html