Collaborator Profile | Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project “Helping the Most Vulnerable”

Arts in Action is proud to introduce the Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project as one of 2 guest presenters at The Last Survivor Screening 31st May @ Bella Union. Join Arts in Action in welcoming speaker Sam Charlesworth who will shed light on some of issues facing asylum seekers and what we can do to help.

The Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project  which began in 1996 is a UnitingCare agency that works with asylum seekers living in the community.  Hotham ASP works with asylum seekers who are lawfully awaiting an outcome on their refugee or humanitarian protection claim, but who face homelessness and destitution without community support. Many have suffered physical or emotional trauma, isolation and mental illness. Some have endured periods of detention. Hotham also provides housing and care for unaccompanied young people who arrived by boat and have been released from detention centres into community-based care while awaiting the outcome of their claims.

“The Asylum Seekers Project recognizes the extreme vulnerabliity of many asylum seekers in the community, those without work rights, accommodation and healthcare, often reduced to poverty and desitution while awaiting the outcome of protection claims” Graeme Innes AM, Human Rights Commissioner

Mission Statement

To contribute to the development of a comprehensive framework of support and to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for asylum seekers without any entitlements in Victoria. Hotham Mission ASP provides:

    • professional casework support
    • housing
    • basic living assistance payments (BLA)
    • help with utilities and emergencies
    • a volunteer program of one-to-one support (LinkUP)
    • men’s and women’s support groups
    • State and national policy advocacy, and research.


Hotham Mission ASP operates at very low cost, thanks to in-kind support from Uniting Church agencies, Our Community, and housing donors. They provide more than $2.6 million in services to asylum seekers annually, at an overhead cost of less than $300,000. About 95% of income for Hotham’s Community Program is from public donations and philanthropic grants. The Victorian Government provided about 5% of expenditure in 2010 and 2011. The Commonwealth Government provides funds through the Red Cross for the unaccompanied young people’s program. Click here if you would like to donate.

“FINDING SHELTER” The history of Hotham Mission ASP

Finding Shelter captures the stories of asylum seekers in their own words, the issues and policies that defined ten years in Australian history, and the remarkable work of the Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project.

Through the stories of asylum seekers, stall and volunteers, Finding Shelter describes the experiences of those with whom the Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker project has worked, and the ways in which the agency has developed in reponse to their needs.

Copies will be available for sale at the screening or you can order a copy by calling 03 9326 8343

ONLY $20 (plus postage) All proceeds will provide direct help for asylum seekers struggling to survive in the community.

 Hassan’s Story

Hassan is typical of young men who have reached Hotham ASP at their very lowest ebb. After arriving by plane from war-torn northern Pakistan in late 2008, the amiable 21-year-old secured a room and a part-time job, but his declining health – fuelled by sleepless nights and perpetual nightmares – saw his circumstances spiral slowly out of his control.

After losing his job and then his home, Hassan was referred to a psychologist and treated with sleeping pills and anti-depressants. But still the nightmares came. “My family was dying before my eyes every night,” he recalls.

When he arrived at Hotham in late 2010, Hassan was penniless, homeless, and on the verge of a complete breakdown. His suffering could only have deepened, were it not for help given to Hotham ASP by our Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, which has provided two houses in eastern Melbourne to people like Hassan in desperate need of safety and security and the chance to re-find their own strength.

“We’ve been touched by the courageous stories of many of these young men, heading out on their own to build a better life for their families,” says parish priest Fr Brendan Reed. “We just want to do whatever little we can to help.”

For Hassan, that help has been life-changing. During nine months in Our Lady’s house, he has returned to professional counselling, completed his application for protection, and secured a new job. He left the house and took up private rental in November, and has applied to join a TAFE small business management course. “The future is definitely brighter now,” he says.

Hotham ASP provide services under the Victorian Government’s Intensive Case Management Initiative, which aims to assist people who have, like Hassan, moved to the very edge of destitution. Hotham ASP is also providing specialist ‘people seeking asylum’ training to community agencies and caseworkers around Australia.

How to Help

Donate to Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Appeal

Your donation will help ASP provide these poorest children, women and men, with housing, professional support, monthly cash relief, help with utilities bills, and medical and emergency help. ASP also provides referrals, one-to-one volunteer support, and women’s and men’s groups. ASP advocates and lobbies on behalf of the people it serves.

Donate Housing

HUNDRED HOUSES CHALLENGE – Do you have a rental Property to donate?

Hotham Mission ASP calls on Victorians who own a rental property to register their interest in making their property available for transitional housing for asylum seekers. If agreed by State and Federal Governments, this pilot scheme would see rental agreements funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and administered by the Victorian Department of Housing.

To indicate your interest in pledging a property or to find out more specific information related to your needs, please call Emma Pullen on 9326 8343

Click here for more information about how to pledge, what is needed and how asylum seekers will be supported in the houses.


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