National | Australia

Pandemic forces Kiwis in Australia to move home

Community advocate Vicky Rose. Source/File.

The livelihoods of a third of the Kiwi population living in Australia have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vicky Rose (Ngāpuhi), who managed the Nerang Neighbourhood Centre on the Gold Coast says despite financial subsidies being made available for Kiwis, it hasn't been enough to survive.

Rose says this is a new week and a new struggle for some families living abroad.

"The hardships we are about to face is we're about to have our first week and our first real big wave of people not having a paycheck coming in."

Roses' client base has risen 200% in the past fortnight and she says it is due to Australia not looking after their workers.

"They've drawn a really hardline on temporary migrants here including New Zealanders," Rose says.

"We've got Kiwis who are nurses putting their lives on the line. Kiwis who are teachers who have been teaching children amongst this stress, truck drivers, warehousing, logistics all of those things that are still working and contributing to this country to help this country get through this pandemic."

While the Australian government have opened up their financial support lines for Kiwis, it's a blurred process that will not happen immediately.

"The job seeker payment from Centrelink the minimum processing time is 21 working days. The job keeper ATO through the job subsidy is not going to kick in until May, accessing your super, you can't do that until the end of April and then there is going to be a processing time on that," Rose says.

Maia Bown (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura) is one of the many Kiwis who has felt the financial impacts of this virus and she says making the decision to move home is what is best for her family.

"Sitting in that unknown space is quite scary for a lot of people," Brown says.

"The strain of us not being able to foresee the future financially was a concern for us and for many other families."

Despite having approximately 2 million visa holders contributing to the Australia economy, Rose says the government has shown no consideration of that.

"Government is still thinking from a welfare head rather than thinking 'Let's do what we need to do to get Australia through this'."

Rose is still advising New Zealanders facing hardship in Australia to reach out to their local community or neighbourhood centres for help.