Pharmacy Waiver program provides much-needed relief for people seeking asylum during COVID-19 pandemic

Medication to treat chronic disease or illnesses can be a costly and ongoing process, particularly if it requires on-going medication. It is even more difficult to access basic medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen let alone diabetes, heart or asthma treatment when living on the edge of poverty and in uncertainty.

parents with baby stock

Abbad* knows how it feels to worry about his family’s health. He has two children with disabilities and one child with asthma, and he and his family are living on the edge of poverty while they await the outcome of their protection claim in Australia. At time Abbad and his wife also rely on the Pharmacy Waiver program when needing their own medication support.

It is why Abbad is so grateful for the Cabrini Outreach Pharmacy Waiver program, run in partnership with Hume Whittlesea Community Connections. The Pharmacy Waiver program provides free essential medicines to people seeking asylum who are not eligible for Medicare or who have no or low income. Abbad is not eligible for support from the Australian government, and so he relies on this program to maintain his and his family’s health.

“Honestly, without the free medication, my family would be facing many more problems both in the house and financially. Our health would be much worse and we would get sick much more often”, Abbad commented. “I cannot thank you enough. This program has saved us.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub has seen a doubling in the number of people seeking support from the Pharmacy Waiver program. Many of our clients suffer from chronic disease, placing them at higher risk if they were to be infected with the coronavirus. Many are also living in the current Melbourne COVID-19 ‘hotspot’ suburbs.

 cabrini outreach asylum hub

Cabrini Outreach, in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, will continue to provide relief for medication costs for people seeking asylum, to work towards ensuring that everyone in Australia can maintain basic standards of health. 

*Name Changed to protect identity