How to Help: temporary visa holders

Published on 4 June 2020

Photo: The entry to Open Kichen's pick-up point (image courtesy Open Kitchen).

The lockdown situation has been devastating for restaurants and hospitality all over Australia. But those hardest hit have to be the thousands of workers in the industry on temporary visas. Not eligible for government support but prevented from seeking alternative work by the conditions of their visas, these men and women, vital to hospitality in Australia, have been left in limbo. In response, several organisations and fundraisers have sprung up to offer meals, money or other forms of support.

Tip Jar

“If there ever was a time to give a tip, it’s now.” That’s the credo of the group behind Tip Jar, a fundraising drive organised by a cooperative of hospitality organisations who want to help those in their industry that have slipped through the cracks. Hospitality hub Worksmith is spearheading the campaign, which asks for donations big and small from those who can spare some change. The money is distributed to four organisations that work directly with the hospitality industry to either keep people employed or support those who are out of work. And if that wasn’t reason enough to give, the crew are also offering prizes to anyone who puts something in the jar. Find out more.

Hope Delivery

After seeing the situation for international workers, Neil Perry put his Rockpool Foundation into gear and created Hope Delivery, a meal service in Melbourne and Sydney that aims to feed 1,000 people a day in each city. While the initial focus is on temporary visa holders, meals are also being distributed to others in the community in need via OzHarvest, with the hope to continue this part of the program in the future. “The need for food is great,” says Perry. “We can stop sporting and cultural events, close down industries, shut schools and close our borders, but we cannot let people go hungry.” Hope Delivery is now accepting donations from corporate partners and the general public. Find out more.

Open Kitchen

The folks at Congress, Future Future and Lagotto are also the hearts and minds behind Open Kitchen. It’s a community initiative offering meals to anyone in hospitality who isn’t eligible for government support despite losing their job or having their roster dramatically reduced following the lockdown. With the help of sponsors, the Open Kitchen team are preparing vegetarian meals for collection at Congress twice a week for the next six months. The goal to prepare as many meals as possible with the funds at hand. If you think you can help, get in touch. If you’d like to register for a meal, head to

Hospo 4 Hospo

Through its network of farmers and chefs, Australian Pork has teamed up with venues around Australia to offer takeaway meals to those in hospitality doing it tough. Melbourne restaurants Soi 38, Sunda and Lekker have been involved to date, with those in need encouraged to drop by and ask for a Hospo 4 Hospo meal. All locations are advertised on Instagram a couple of days prior.

Attica Soup Project

Since April, Attica chef Ben Shewry and food writer Dani Valent have been making litres and litres of soup each week to feed migrant workers. Those of us fortunate enough to be ordering Attica at home are encouraged to add soup to our order – think of it as lunch for the next day – with five dollars from each sale providing a bowl of that same soup for a visa-holder in need. Baker Bleu throw in bread and Dani and her daughters make fortune cookies with messages of hope inside. Add soup to your Attica At Home order, $25 per serve, Mon-Sat, 5pm-9pm.
Register for soup if you're an overseas worker.

Fair Feed

While Fair Feed doesn’t solely create meals for those in hospitality, it does offer jobs to those who might be out of work and affordable meals to those in need. Its business model is geared towards supporting every person that’s involved. Chefs who are out of work create a meal of their choosing each day, while those who deliver the meals have also come from hospitality jobs and keep $10 of the $10.50 delivery fee. If you happen to be purchasing a meal, you walk away with dinner for less than $20. Wins all round. Find out more.

Henry Sugar

Every Friday, the team at Henry Sugar cooks extra meals to give to those who aren’t receiving any government support. Using produce donated from their friends and suppliers, the kitchen has given away up to 100 serves of its staff meal each week, completely free of charge. Those who would like to request a meal need to email Henry Sugar before 2pm on Friday. Meals are available from 4pm onwards that day.


Like so many other bars, Fitzroy venue Ends & Means had to close its doors in March, with little scope for alternative income. Worried about his staff, owner Henry Le got in touch with fellow bar owner Jason Chan (Seamstress) and chef Jez Berwick (Rice Paper Scissors) to establish The CoVid-19 Employee Assistance Directive. It’s a way of feeding their community of friends and peers, operating entirely through donations and volunteers. Their goal is to raise $45,000 and they’re getting close. Give them a hand.

San Telmo Group

Talk about a grocery shop with a difference. To assist those of its team members who don’t receive any government support, the San Telmo group of restaurants decided to donate the profits from its online store to support them. You get to shop for dinner prepared by chefs at Asado, Pastuso, Palermo and San Telmo while these individuals get some much-needed relief. As well as ready-to-heat meals, there’s wine, meat, seafood and condiments on offer. You can also make a cash donation between $10 and $100, with the funds going to international staff. Shop now.


FareShare has been providing nutritious meals to those in need for nearly 20 years, and since the pandemic hit, it has doubled the number of meals it usually makes. To help get more than 500,000 meals into the hands of those who need them, including international workers and students, Gelato Messina has offered up its warehouse in East Brunswick as a collection point. Beyond meals, FareShare offers work in its busy kitchens to people on temporary visas. Twenty visa-holders have already been employed and more jobs are available for cooks, chefs, kitchen attendants and kitchenhands. You must be registered in the Working for Victoria scheme to be employed, so if that’s you, send your CV and details to
If you need a meal, register to collect it on Thursday or Friday each week from Messina’s warehouse (136 Weston Street, Brunswick East). 

By Emma Breheny

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