5×2: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and ACON

Today is our final day of 5 days of donations to support charities working with vulnerable communities during a health and economic crisis.

Our second last charity is the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre which provides a foodbank, legal aid, healthcare, and other services to refugees and people seeking asylum in Victoria. Their COVID-19 statement.

Many refugees and people seeking asylum are affected by poverty and lack of access to government resources (eg, some of ASRC’s community don’t have access to publicly funded healthcare). In addition, refugees and people seeking asylum often have experience of being detained (frequently by the Australian government) or having limited freedom of movement, and sometimes of infectious diseases spreading through their communities due to lack of healthcare or crowding or neglect. Social distancing, self-isolation, quarantine, widespread illness, etc, are things many are familiar with, often deliberately and cruelly inflicted, and this time is re-traumatising for them.

Founded 18 years ago, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is Australia’s largest human rights organisation providing support to people seeking asylum.

We are an independent not-for-profit organisation whose programs support and empower people seeking asylum to maximise their own physical, mental and social well being.

We champion the rights of people seeking asylum and mobilise a community of compassion to create lasting social and policy change.

Take a tour of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre | ASRC

You can donate to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre online.

Our last charity is ACON, an Australian health organisation for LGBTQ people, founded for and focussing on people with HIV.

There have been other terrible global pandemics in our lifetime: 32 million people are thought to have died of AIDS to date, with hopes that only 500,000 people will die in 2020. That’s right, half a million deaths from AIDS in 2020 is the hoped for outcome.

And of course, since it’s an immunodeficiency disease, people with HIV are at higher risk from COVID-19, so the two collide. Here’s ACON’s COVID-19 statement, the impact of COVID-19 on people living with HIV in Australia does not yet seem well understood.

We are a fiercely proud community organisation. For our entire history, the work of ACON has been designed by and for our communities.

Established in 1985, our early years were defined by community coming together to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in NSW, and we remain committed to ending HIV for everyone in our communities. We do this by delivering campaigns and programs to eliminate new HIV transmissions. Supporting people living with HIV to live healthy and connected lives remains core to our work.

As we have grown, we have been proud to work with a diverse range of people to ensure their voice and health needs are represented in the work we do.

Who We Are — ACON

You can donate to ACON online.

I’ve shared my family’s donations this week in order to inspire you to think about the hardest hit people in your communities, and in the world, as COVID-19’s health and economic implications bite. If you’re inspired to support one of these ten organisations they can all use a great deal of additional help, but I also encourage you to look around your own community, and around the world for organisations at the frontline of providing services to vulnerable people, and to support them.

5×2: news from the organisations

Several 5×2 organisations have been in touch to share their stories about what they and their communities are going through at this time:

We talked with folks from Médecins Sans Frontières Australia (MSF) (day 1) and YoungCare (day 3) on the phone yesterday. Both organisations are very very scared for their communities. MSF is in Italy and Greece right now assisting with COVID-19 care, and particularly advocating for the evacuation of refugee camps on the Greek Islands. They are having a lot of trouble moving their staff between countries to where they are needed. YoungCare is naturally deeply concerned for disabled Australians with high needs in coming weeks.

Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi Aboriginal Corporation (day 3) wrote:

Everyone here is worried about the impact on our vulnerable clients, many who have multiple health problems and are living in overcrowded inadequate housing or are homeless. Today we are arranging transport back home to Communities for some of our elderly and disabled clients and board members. There is a lot of fear so we are also doing as much as we can to source and create information in local languages, as well as personally keep key senior people up to date.

FoodCare Orange (day 2) wrote:

… such an unsure and concerning time for our community… As FoodCare receives no recurrent Government funding, this will certainly assist us to continue providing what we believe is a very needed service to those experiencing financial hardship.

5×2: UNICEF and Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council

Today is our fourth of 5 days of donations to support charities working with vulnerable communities during a health and economic crisis.

Today’s two charities are again driven by the interests of our children.

Our first child was keen to support children who are left without stable homes, or possibly families, by COVID-19. For this one we chose a large and well-known charity with a global footprint: UNICEF. They have a COVID-19 overview page.

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working to protect and improve the lives of every child in over 190 countries.

Promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. We protect and advocate for the rights of every child in Australia and overseas. We provide life-saving support and protection for children during emergencies and crises.

UNICEF Australia – United Nation’s Children’s Fund

You can donate to UNICEF’s Australian arm or donate to your local arm.

Our second child wanted to help Indigenous Australians, so in addition to yesterday’s donation to Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi Aboriginal Corporation, we have made a donation to The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council, which is an Indigenous governed peak body for Aboriginal health services. They already have COVID-19 resources in place.

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) assists the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) across NSW to ensure they have access to an adequately resourced and skilled workforce to provide high-quality health care services for Aboriginal communities.

Who we are » Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW

You can donate to AH&MRC online.

What groups around you are scared of the impacts of COVID-19 and associated economic shocks? Can you help them?

5×2: Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi and YoungCare

Today is our third of 5 days of donations to support charities working with vulnerable communities during a health and economic crisis. Today’s two charities are focused on two different communities in Australia.

Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi Aboriginal Corporation is an Indigenous women led organisation that works with people in the Central Desert region of Australia. They work with youth at risk of homelessness; with new families on basic supplies, nutrition and money management; and with elders on disability support. They facilitate art and culture traditions being passed between generations.

Waltja is a community based organisation that works with families from Central Desert indigenous communities to address major issues affecting their communities. Waltja’s work focuses on addressing the many gaps in service delivery for children, youth, elders and people with disabilities in the remote communities of Central Australia.

WALTJA | The Waltja Way

You can donate to Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi Aboriginal Corporation online.

Our second donation is to YoungCare, which provides housing for young people with high care needs including especially constructed housing, funding to live at home, and return to home funding. They’ve just had to postpone a major fundraising event due to COVID-19 risk.

Suitable and appropriate supported housing is one of the greatest areas of unmet need for people with disabilities in Australia. Currently, there are 12,000 young people being left behind in inappropriate housing simply because there is nowhere else for them to go.

The Issue – YoungCare

You can donate to YoungCare online.

In a global crisis, people without stable or suitable housing are hugely at risk: consider supporting these or other groups supporting particular communities at risk today.

5×2: FoodCare Orange and GiveDirectly

Today is our second of 5 days of donations to support charities working with vulnerable communities during a health and economic crisis. Today’s two choices are very local and very global.

A family member suggested donating to FoodCare Orange in my home town to support community members on low incomes.

FoodCare Orange is a not-for-profit social enterprise established in 2012. We provide individuals and families on low incomes access to affordable, fresh food, groceries and household items.

WHO WE ARE | foodcareorange

You can donate to FoodCare Orange via bank transfer.

Our second donation is to GiveDirectly, which does unrestricted cash transfers to members of extremely poor communities. This is an extension of the value in my introductory post that giving cash is the most flexible and useful type of donation; in this case the community members will choose how to spend the money.

We chose to split the money between GiveDirectly, and GiveDirectly Refugees.

We do not impose our preferences, or judgments, on the beneficiaries; instead we respect and empower them to make their own choices, elevating their voices in the global aid debate. This value is core to GiveDirectly’s identity as the first organization exclusively devoted to putting the poor in control of how aid money is spent. It comes at a potential cost, as it means that neither we nor donors get to set priorities (and we may even lose some “efficiency” in providing this option).

GiveDirectly Values | GiveDirectly

Australians looking to make a tax deductible donation can donate via Effective Altruism Australia (select “I would like to choose how to allocate my donation”). Alternatively, GiveDirectly is a US 501(c)3, and you can donate directly here.

Consider whether you’d like to donate to these or similar organisations to support vulnerable people during a global crisis. Also, consider a smaller, ongoing donation! Regular income is the lifeblood of charities.

5×2: Médecins Sans Frontières and The Haymarket Foundation

Today is our first of 5 days of donations to support charities working with vulnerable communities during a health and economic crisis. Today’s two choices are driven by the interests of our children.

Our first child wanted to help there be enough hospitals and enough equipment to treat sick people who need it as demand spikes. Given that the Australian medical system is pretty well resourced (no one really is in this context, but relatively), we decided to donate to Médecins Sans Frontières, who will no doubt be at the front line of COVID-19 outbreaks in war zones (there are reports of infections in Syria) and areas with natural disasters.

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) is an independent international medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters.

Médecins Sans Frontières Australia

Médecins Sans Frontières is an international organisation: you can donate to the Australian arm here, and you can donate to many international arms here.

Our second child was concerned about impact on homeless people, a group that is getting larger in Australia. Both children see people sleeping rough occasionally in our neighbourhood. We decided to donate to The Haymarket Foundation which provides crisis care in Sydney for homeless people, particularly active users of alcohol or drugs, and also provides intervention services aimed at newly homeless people.

We exist to provide opportunities to people who have been marginalised by society. We understand that the people we work with come from a background of complex trauma, and we use this understanding to advocate and deliver multidisciplinary services that are inclusive, safe, and offer freedom of choice.

The Foundation provides a safe place for people in crisis, supports people transitioning into long-term accommodation, and provides a range of supportive environments throughout each individual’s journey.

About – The Haymarket Foundation

You can donate here.

Remember, you don’t need to donate to our chosen organisations, although they could definitely use your help as well. There are many many vulnerable people who need help right now, and many organisations on the ground ready to help them today; decide on your values and give if you can.

5×2: support your community, it’s hurting and scared and it needs your help

Right now the world is facing two new threats: the first is a global pandemic which is spreading rapidly and which might kill 3% or more of people infected, particularly if it hits suddenly enough that there aren’t enough ICU or hospital beds (as has happened in Italy) and many many people go on to die both of COVID-19 and of other things that a hospital would normally be able to treat.

The other is major recessions or depressions following on from the partial shutdown of global trade and the near total shutdown of enormous numbers of industries including airlines, large events, catering, tourism, and manufacturing, and knock-on effects for many industries. This will also lead to many deaths from the consequences of stress and poverty; I haven’t seen a guess at all-cause mortality changes from COVID-19, but it’s surely much higher than direct deaths from the illness. And those who survive will need major support to rebuild their lives and work.

I definitely understand that at a time like this, it makes sense to have savings and be prepared for the future yourself, and I’m planning to, but it’s also a time when all crisis services will be incredibly stressed trying to deal with increasingly sick, increasingly poor, and increasingly scared people, and there is no better time to make sure they have the cash they need, and help them get ready.

My family has decided this week to support 10 charities (over 5 days, 5×2) that we expect need extra funds to deal with what’s coming, and I’m going to share them throughout the week, less to encourage donations to these specific charities as to encourage you to think about where you can give.

My entire family is part of the decision to give, so not all of the charities will meet these critieria, but here’s some I suggest and will apply to my share of our choices:

  • small and nimble, works directly with vulnerable people: an organisation that can turn your cash into a motel room and food parcel or a week’s rent for a member of their community in need is one that needs your money today and can use it in the next month to make a real difference to a person
  • “nothing about us without us”: guided and run by the people it is designed to serve
  • donate cash, not goods: cash can be turned into what someone needs right now, not what a donor thought they might need six weeks ago
  • donate to the organisation’s general funds, not any COVID-19 (or other) specific campaigns of theirs: their other work hasn’t stopped, they need to pay their staff more than ever, etc, trust them to know what their community needs

If you can’t give, you can help by supporting and encouraging your government and large, wealthy employers to provide for:

  • ample sick and carer’s leave for people who might need many weeks off work as COVID-19 roars through their family and friends
  • ample carer’s leave for people whose care services (daycare, school, respite, etc) get shut down
  • crisis payments and systems for people at risk of not making (particularly) rent or mortgage payments or being able to buy food
  • strong engagement with representatives of vulnerable populations about their needs
  • a solid welfare system