BY NATASHA SCHAPOVA
The event, conducted virtually by Monash Move It For Good on July 26, encouraged people to move their bodies in whatever way possible.
It has raised more than $50,000 as a result of more than 1500 donations, plus 2.5 million steps were recorded by 415 participating students, staff and alumni.
42 teams from Monash University’s clubs, societies, halls of residence, staff and sporting teams took part in the event.
Monash Move It For Good communications officer Kat Pickett said the pandemic is not an excuse to halt support for asylum seekers.
“It’s a really difficult time at the moment and it’s important to realise that this need isn’t going away and the barriers to accessing tertiary education aren’t going away,” Ms Pickett said.
“If anything they’re becoming more difficult.”
Ms Pickett said asylum seekers are often “systematically disenfranchised” in a pandemic and do not have the same form of financial relief many others do.
“Currently asylum seekers don’t have the same access to HECS and Centrelink, so they pay the same price as international students which is around $35,000 (per year) on top of their living allowances,” she said.
“I think it’s important that we don’t leave [anyone] behind and we’re showing the community that this is something that we’re passionate about and going to continue to support.”
Payments such as JobKeeper, JobSeeker and Youth Allowance exclude asylum seekers holding a temporary visa.
Each Humanitarian Scholarship is $35,000, which covers an asylum seeker’s costs for one year of their undergraduate degree. They receive a further $5000 for living expenses.
Monash Move it For Good community engagement officer Gemma Crosby said donating to Monash Runs for Refugees amid the pandemic is vital to ensure support for Humanitarian Scholarships.
“The bigger the community we build, the more scholarships the university will provide, and they have been increasing the amount every year for the past four or five years,” Ms Crosby said.
Ms Crosby said these scholarships are “very important” as they allow more people to access higher education.
She added the scholarships remove “massive financial barriers” from people with a history of hardship and from low-socioeconomic backgrounds.
“Everyone should have equal access to education, no matter what their visa status is,” Ms Crosby said.
She also said the run helps “build hope as a community”.
“[This] is such a powerful thing, so I think that can be really good for people in a time when we’re so isolated and so alone.”
Previous Humanitarian Scholarship recipient and current Monash University science student Mariam said during the event’s launch video that paying the same fees as other international students is unrealistic for asylum seekers.
“For a person who came to Australia with absolutely nothing but hope, [paying full fees] is quite impossible,” Mariam said.
“Like everyone else, asylum seeker students should have the right to access education and achieve their dreams, visa status should not be a barrier,” she said.
“I believe the most powerful weapon for changing the world is education and it should be a right, not a privilege.”
Move It For Good will be hosting a Festival for A Brighter Future in September to continue raising funds, aiming to provide two scholarships in 2021.