Vision First reported to the Social Welfare Department the case of a refugee girl, Shamea, whose parents said only receives 4 (four) cans of baby milk formula from the government contractor each month. This quantity might have been sufficient when she was an infant, but are 120 grams of formula sufficient when she turns 3 next month and no other food is provided?
The Srilankan father and Indonesian mother report they were confronted by a wall of indifference as they pleaded with three different caseworkers, over three years, who all stringently stuck to the line that the formula was all the girl required and the parents should share their rations with her!
Vision First is appealed that an utter disregard for the physical needs of young children is displayed, despite the SWD assuring that food allowances for refugees are carefully evaluated by nutritionists of the Health Department to guarantee the health and wellbeing of refugees, both adult and children. If that is so, how are these incongruences explained? Where else in society do children aged three subsist on baby formula alone, besides it being insufficiently provided?
The parents are deeply distressed. They are keenly aware that refugees are not allowed to work and of consequence food rations are their lifeline. On 7 January 2015, Vision First received three such complaints from similarly distraught mothers. Does this evince a covert policy to punish refugee families by making life difficult for their children? We would want to hope this line of thinking is too cruel to be even taken into consideration.
But, the SWD receives copies of the monthly food distribution sheets. Considering the known age of children, doesn’t the SWD question whether rations are sufficient for each age group? The SWD cannot raise ignorance as an excuse when the data is in front of their eyes.
We query: Is the SWD indirectly encouraging parents to work illegally? Will the SWD step forward to defend parents compelled to earn money to supplement welfare? Why do present welfare policies, supposedly formulated on humanitarian grounds to prevent destitution, manifestly fail to reach such an objective?