Following a story in today’s Guardian Australia by Samantha Prendergast I am looking for New Zealanders living in Australia doing it tough without the benefit of the Centrelink safety net. This is despite Australians in New Zealand having access to the full range of social support structures regardless of how long they have lived in New Zealand.
“When I came to Australia at the age of 12, I never expected to find myself age 23 with no access to social security. If I lost my job tomorrow, I’d be broke in four weeks time – and there’d be no Newstart or Youth Allowance to fall back on.
In 2001, two years before my family moved from Auckland to Adelaide, the then Howard government changed the visa rights for New Zealanders who moved to Australia. Previously, Kiwis were immediately eligible for Australian residency. But after 2001, every New Zealander who crossed the Tasman was placed on a non-protected special category visa (SCV), a temporary visa that is unique to New Zealanders and can be altered at any time. We can live here, work here, and access Medicare. But beyond that, services are limited. If people on SCVs want permanent residency and the benefits attached to it, there are few available options. Permanent residency is granted when people meet criteria that make them valuable to the Australian community – and that usually means having a long-term relationship with an Australian citizen, being highly skilled, or being a wealthy under-50 year-old with plans to invest in an Australian company. For many people, especially young New Zealanders who moved here as kids, the criteria are hard to meet and the consequences of staying on a SCV can be severe.”
New Zealanders can technically lose their residency rights in Australia overnight and it is very difficult to get other more permanent forms of residency.
You can read Samantha’s story here.
Anyone willing to share their story can get in touch through the contact form. If you wish to protect your identity please let me know within the contact form and we can go from there.