Migrants have greater fear of coronavirus

Newly arrived migrants and refugees are far more anxious about coronavirus than the broader Australian community.

New polling from refugee support group AMES Australia found more than two-thirds of migrants were anxious about the health impacts of the virus.

A separate YouGov poll found 57 per cent of Australians were concerned.

Nearly 70 per cent of new migrants surveyed were worried about losing their job or being unable to pay rent or buy food, compared to just under half of Australian residents.

A leading disease expert has warned the government needs to extend welfare support to new migrants to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

Michael Toole from the Burnet Institute said countries like Singapore had seen spikes in cases when migrants were ignored.

“To effectively suppress community transmission of the coronavirus in Australia, key elements of the response need to be accessible by vulnerable populations,” Professor Toole said on Monday.

Refugee Council chief executive Paul Power has warned migrants face homelessness unless they can access income support afforded to permanent residents.

“This is not just dangerous for those in question but for the wider Australian community,” Mr Power said.

Labor’s home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally has called for a migration overhaul once the pandemic subsides, arguing the government must make sure Australians “get a fair go and a first go at jobs”.

Her comments have drawn the ire of the acting immigration minister.

Alan Tudge said Labor was contradicting itself, having called for migrant workers to get access to welfare payments, while also being given less priority in job queues.

Mr Tudge said opening up welfare to migrant workers would be a $20 billion hit to the economy.

“The expectation when they always come here is you don’t get access to welfare payments,” he told ABC radio.

Mr Tudge said unemployed migrants could still leave Australia, despite borders to remain closed for some time.

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