NSW government to offer travel concessions to asylum seekers

NSW Premier Mike Baird today announced the NSW Government will provide travel concessions to asylum seekers to help them access important social and community services and increase their participation in our society.

The concessions will be the most generous of any state in the nation – equivalent to the concessions currently available under the Gold Pension Concession Card. The concessions will apply from 1 January 2016.

“I am of the view that Australia is the lucky country and we have a responsibility to help those who have nowhere else to turn,” Mr Baird said.

“NSW is Australia’s economic powerhouse, but there is little point in having a strong economy unless we use this strength to help the vulnerable among us.

“NSW has shown we are prepared to help asylum seekers in our community and we want to do even more.

“This group is one of the most vulnerable in our society, often living below the poverty line. Evidence suggests that lack of access to dispersed services is a key impediment to their health and well-being.

“Being unable to travel creates social isolation which leads to deteriorating mental and physical health.

“Until now, it has been the non-government community agencies funding transport for asylum seekers in NSW. This change allows those NGOs to be putting more of their limited resources into food, counselling and housing – where it is needed most.”

The eligibility criteria will largely emulate the model currently operating in Victoria and applicants will need to apply.

To be eligible for this card the applicant must be:

  • either holding a Bridging Visa or applying for one; and
  • over 17 years of age; and
  • receiving aid from a designated agency.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said eligible asylum seekers would receive a $2.50 ticket that provides for all day, multimodal travel.

“We are providing these travel discounts to asylum seekers to help them participate more fully in our society and access a range of social and community services,” Mr Constance said.

“Many of the asylum seekers in NSW are at the very start of the process of applying for a protection visa. This means they need access to a wide range of services in order to navigate this process and rebuild their lives.”

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