More money for vulnerable Australians abroad | The young witness
More hardship loans are made available to vulnerable Australians stranded abroad during the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal government has already set aside $ 5 million for emergency travel loans.
Foreign Secretary Marise Payne is now making more cash available to Australian citizens stranded abroad.
“The loans are intended to cover temporary accommodation and daily living expenses until they return,” Senator Payne said Wednesday.
“Loans may also be available to help vulnerable Australians purchase tickets for commercial flights.”
Applicants will have to meet strict eligibility criteria and only the most vulnerable will be assisted.
All loans must be repaid upon return to Australia.
There are now more than 23,000 Australians abroad who wish to return, of which a third are in India.
The total number has increased by more than 4,200 in the past two weeks.
The federal government has imposed a weekly limit of 4,000 inbound passengers to ease the burden of quarantine in hotels.
But exemptions can be granted in exceptional circumstances.
Nearly 3,500 people stranded abroad are classified as vulnerable, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade having issued more than 400 emergency loans so far.
Until Wednesday, consular officials were receiving a budget of $ 5 million for these loans.
They provided $ 1.3 million between March and June of this year.
But there is no information available on the amount of money loaned since the beginning of July.
Ministry officials have distanced themselves from a report by nine newspapers that government agents are urging stranded Australians to run out of money to run GoFundMe-style campaigns.
“It is not the ministry’s advice to consular officials to tell people to run crowdfunding campaigns,” a senior official told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.
Australian Associated Press