Indooroopilly Uniting Church – Assisting vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers is at the heart of the Indooroopilly Uniting Church’s mission.

It’s difficult to imagine being forced to leave your home country. But this is the reality for many asylum seekers and refugees who are left with no choice. They are faced with seeking safety and starting a new life in a new country, where they don’t know the language and have no support systems in place. Imagine being hungry on top of this. Could you survive?

Indooroopilly Uniting Church Asylum Seeker and Refugee Support Hub provides vital services these vulnerable families and individuals need. Founded on the values of inclusivity and compassion, the Church’s Asylum Seeker and Refugee Support Hub serves as part of a support network for asylum seekers and refugees at risk of becoming homeless and unlawful.

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Among its services, Indooroopilly Uniting Church provides clerical and administrative support – form-filling sessions – that assists refugees and asylum seekers and offers referrals to legal, housing, mental and physical health, and employment support services.

Working with Foodbank Queensland, the Hub supplies supplementary food and toiletries to assist in meeting the needs of this vulnerable community. Starting as a small initiative, the services have expanded to address the community’s increasing needs. Malcolm, Indooroopilly Uniting Church Hub Manager explained,

The provision of food to people of a refugee background started as a very small pantry out at the front of the church.  Church members had been going to Foodbank for a couple of years before that, supporting the wider community.” – Malcolm

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Today, this pantry provides support to those in need, not only refugees but also to the homeless and unemployed. The demand for groceries increased when the Church shifted its focus to assist refugees and asylum seekers facing hardship.

“We started the targeted refugee work in around 2014, and it was initially some simple help with form filling. At that time, people who had recently been released from immigration detention were settled in the Indooroopilly area, but not allowed to work, so they had no source of income. So, the Church began to access more groceries through Foodbank to assist.”

As a result, the Church relocated the food pantry to a larger space to assist more families and individuals. Today, the Hub dedicates two afternoons per week to helping refugees and asylum seekers with food welfare and other support.

To provide access to a wider range of support services as a “one-stop-shop”, Indooroopilly Uniting Church is a part of a consortium called ASRA (Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance). This is a Queensland Government-funded program, coordinated by Communify Queensland, that assists people seeking asylum and refugees on short term visas who arrived by boat. Without the assistance of these vital programs, this disadvantaged group would face impossible and dangerous situations.

“Many of the people we support are on short term visas – some only for a few weeks or months. If you don’t have a permanent visa, you can’t get meaningful work to support yourself and your family.” – Malcolm

Many of these refugees and asylum seekers are facing impossible decisions after already experiencing persecution and discrimination in their own country. Malcolm described the situation of an archaeologist who was persecuted after questioning the lack of government funding for important antiquity sites. As a result, he and his family chose to flee and seek refuge in Australia. This is one example of the variety of individuals and families that seek and receive support at the Church’s Hub.  While the food pantry is only one of the services the Hub provides, it provides food relief that Foodbank Queensland helps support.

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“Foodbank has really been wonderful. As the Hub did during COVID, Foodbank is open through thick and thin. You do what you can because people still need to eat and so it’s been a great support for our work.”  – Malcolm

With Foodbank Queensland’s support in providing groceries, the Hub can focus its donated resources on trying to provide these disadvantaged and vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees with the other tools they need to survive.  Without this, these farmers, fishers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, mothers and grandmothers, and ultimately people just like us, would continue to fight an uphill battle without any support.

If you are in a position to help Foodbank Queensland provide more food across the state to support Queenslanders in need, please consider joining the fight against hunger as a regular giver.