I recently visited the ASRC – the Asylum Seekers’ Resource Centre in Melbourne – and was blown away by the enterprise, energy and passion for helping people I witnessed there. Springing from a tiny operation in a shopfront with a few hundred dollars and a few boxes of food, in 2001, the ASRC now feeds, counsels, educates, helps accommodate & secures work for, over 1200 asylum seekers at any one time.
It is a mighty enterprise - bustling with volunteers who have provided over 1 million hours of their time in the last 12 years, and absolutely no one in need is turned away.
I was shown around by the indefatigable Kon Karapanagiotidis, who founded and oversees the centre, and I can say that the size of his heart is only matched by the size of his vision when it comes to what we can do, as a community, to offer asylum seekers the opportunity to contribute to our country.
Desperate people – individuals & families turn up every day. The ASRC offers them support and hope that we would all want for those we care about. I saw workers and clients sitting down together at a one of the centre’s daily shared meals – and the sense of community and dignity and respect was as nourishing as the food looked.
At a time when it is easy to feel that things are bleak, the ASRC is an inspiring reminder of Australian society at its best: compassion, resourcefulness, humour and an absolute dedication to giving people a ‘fair go’. By getting behind ventures like this, we are casting a vote of confidence in our humanity.
The ASRC are running their annual winter appeal and every $1 donation they receive translates to $20 worth of services delivered.
Your donation goes directly to providing the essential items that enable asylum seekers to live: food, winter clothing and blankets, nappies, transport and school packs for children. Every donation helps put an end to poverty and hunger. You're also providing opportunities for education and employment - the foundations of hope and empowerment.