The Victorian government will put in $3m for crisis response to support asylum seekers hit by federal government cuts.

The federal government announced it was tightening requirements for the status resolution support services payments for asylum seekers on bridging visas, which later came into effect.

The payment was about $35 a day for just over 13,000 people, and also provided access to trauma and torture counselling services and case management support. Advocates said the restrictions cut the number of people on the program to about 5,000.

A report found that the change put close to 80% of asylum seekers who were on the payment at risk of homelessness.

In April the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre report a huge surge in people seeking help for food and accommodation because of the changes.

The Victorian health minister, Martin Foley, announced $3m in funding to cover health and support services for 6,000 asylum seekers across the state. It had given $600,000 earlier.

The money will be distributed to the Red Cross, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Monash Health, Improving and Promoting Community Health, Cabrini Refugee and Asylum Seeker Hub, Foundation House and Refugee Legal.

“This funding will ensure people who have already endured great trauma and hardship and are seeking asylum in Victoria get the specialist care they need,” Foley said.

“While this can’t address every need or resolve the larger uncertainty of waiting for a visa outcome, we hope this support can relieve some of the pressures faced by those seeking asylum.”

Last year a Refugee Council of Australia report found the cuts, which were aimed at moving refugees off the payment and into employment, simply shifted the cost from the federal government to state governments and charity organisations.

It was estimated the cuts would cost state and territory governments between $80m and $120m a year in additional funding for health, corrective services and homelessness programs.


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