In National Homelessness Week, Ali shares his story
Ali is a refugee who came to Australia from Iran in 2013. In 2018, following a long period of substandard housing and homelessness as a person seeking asylum, he came to live at Baptcare Sanctuary.
People seeking asylum are at very high risk of homelessness. Typically they have low income, they may not have work rights or be discriminated against in employment, they have few social resources and supports, and they often experience significant ill health – particularly mental health.
Homelessness is traumatic. It affects not just housing arrangements but also whether someone can get enough food, feel safe and maintain relationships with friends and family. The physical and mental health effects often persist long after people are rehoused, and the community and government costs are high.
By the time Ali arrived at Sanctuary, his physical and mental health were badly affected, yet he diligently maintained a weekly volunteering shift in a local op shop. He has offered to share his story in this, National Homelessness Week.
Baptcare’s Sanctuary program works not just to house homeless people seeking asylum, but we also aim to prevent homelessness through our partnerships. In 2021, a group of local Baptist churches that wanted to make a difference to the housing challenges faced by asylum seekers and refugees, started to raise funds to subsidise private rental costs.
In 2020 Ali was granted protection – i.e. refugee status – meaning he could stay in Australia for at least 5 years. However, as he was no longer seeking asylum, he needed to leave Sanctuary.
As he started searching for independent accommodation in the Preston area he realised that he desperately wished to live alone. Through COVID he had recently lost seven members of his family in Iran, and the trauma from this could only be eased if he could be free of the stresses of shared accommodation.
Fortunately the MOSAIC group of Baptist churches was willing to provide funds to support Ali’s rehousing. They helped him to find a small house in his local community. Ali now contributes a majority share of the cost of this housing and pays for his utilities and internet. The church donors contribute a regular amount that underwrites his rent. Baptcare coordinates with all parties, and we support Ali to ensure he meets his tenancy obligations.
Since moving into his single bedroom unit, Ali has recommenced English classes four days per week with Kangan TAFE. He is keen to pursue a career in occupational health and safety.
For Ali, ‘fullness of life’ is becoming a reality. Baptcare thanks our donor partners that together have demonstrated a powerful way in which homelessness can be prevented.