Nipuni was a single mother, seeking asylum and homeless in Melbourne with two kids. But with support, she turned it all around.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Thanks to our brand partner, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Nipuni* came to Australia seeking asylum from Sri Lanka with her then partner and two young children. They came seeking asylum because they were not safe in their own country.        

They came to a safer country, ‘the lucky country’. And we are lucky. 

At times, the threat of lockdowns here (heavily felt in Victoria) has been very scary and real.

When many of us think about lockdown, we feel exhausted: worried about the isolation from loved ones, the mental struggle and the juggle of work and home life colliding (and for many, remote learning). 

We worry that our kids are not keeping up with schoolwork and are missing their activities and friends. 

The isolation experience, for many, creates a very real and very visceral fear of the unknown. 

But imagine if on top of all of that you were worried about how to pay for a roof over your head? If your only other option was sleeping in a car with your children on a cold winter’s night? 

Imagine fearing where you were going to find your next meal? If your kids looked at you with sadness and fear in their eyes, not because they miss their mates and dislike remote learning, but because they were cold and hungry? 

Imagine this was not happening somewhere far away and out of sight overseas, but in our own backyard here, in Australia?

This was the reality for Nipuni when she left her partner (and an unsafe home) with her two young children. 


“I was homeless and had nowhere else to turn for support,” Nipuni tells Mamamia

Nipuni is living in Melbourne, and like many people seeking asylum, is employed casually after having experienced a huge loss of hours during the lockdowns.

She works in a demanding physical job as a kitchen hand despite suffering from chronic back pain. She does everything to make sure her children are safe and have a good life. 

She starts work at 5am and returns home by 8am to take her kids to school.

When Melbourne isn’t in lockdown Nipuni can earn up to $900 a month taking on as many casual jobs as she can. 

But unlike many of us who had access to safety nets like JobKeeper and JobSeeker last year, the government excludes Nipuni and people seeking asylum in Australia from receiving this kind of support. Prior to the pandemic, people seeking asylum were also excluded from Centrelink and many don’t have access to Medicare either.

“I’m still scared I won’t earn enough money to pay my rent each month,” Nipuni says.

“I worry that my children won’t be safe and have everything they need.

"This keeps me awake at night.”

The pandemic has disproportionately affected people seeking asylum with their ability to earn money and provide for their families. 

Many people who have sought asylum in Australia have been laid off, or had their hours cut by employers during the pandemic. Small businesses were unable to afford to keep staff without the support payment from the Government. 


With no job or access to income support, people seeking asylum have fallen into a position of even greater disadvantage during the pandemic.

Unable to feed their families and pay the rent, thousands of people seeking asylum in Australia right now, including children, are at risk of sleeping rough.

Many families are forced to sleep rough in a car or even in some cases on the street. This is what would have happened to Nipuni and her two young children if she hadn’t got the support from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC); the largest independent human rights organisation for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia.

They rely mostly on the generosity of the community and support of 1,000 volunteers and 100 staff to assist around 7,000 people seeking asylum each year. 

Over the last year, Nipuni received food deliveries from the ASRC food bank, medical attention for her chronic back condition, legal support to fight for her protection, and regular calls from caseworkers guiding her through the mental stress of her vulnerable families’ situation.


The ASRC helped her find temporary crisis accommodation to prevent her family from sleeping on the street, and then found a long-term rental and paid her rent for over 12 months to help her family get back on their feet.  

With a roof over her family’s head and the support she needed, Nipuni has been able to continue working and building a better future for her children.

“I want to say a big thank you [to the ASRC] for the protection you give vulnerable people like me, for keeping families together and safe,” she says. 

“I want people to know there is hope.”

This winter, you can offer hope, support, and safety to other people like Nipuni. 

No mother should have to worry about their children’s safety. No child should have to sleep rough.


The ASRC helps vulnerable individuals and families to find safe and stable housing, recover from job losses, get access to medical support, and put food on the table. But they can’t do it without the support of the Australian community. 

A donation can provide safety and dignity to thousands of people this winter and stop disadvantage from holding their recovery back.

A $37 donation can provide access to vital medications. 

A $56 donation can go towards providing a family with food and essential groceries. 

A $280 donation can provide two weeks of safe housing.

Safety. Dignity. Recovery. It’s in our hands.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is Australia’s largest independent human rights organisation for refugees and people seeking asylum. 

They deliver more services on the ground than any other independent asylum seeker organisation in the country, and are proudly supported by a compassionate community.

They assist around 7,000 people seeking asylum each year. With the basics covered, these people seeking asylum can focus on their recovering.

Consider donating to their Appeal here.

Feature Image: Getty

While this story is true, names and images have been changed to protect their privacy.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is Austalia's largest independent human rights organisation for refugees and people seeking asylum, delivering more services on the ground than any other independent asylum seeker organisation in the country. We are proudly owned and run by our community and supported by a network of more than 1000 volunteers and 100 staff in assisting around 7000 people seeking asylum each year.