New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Kate who was formerly homeless (Photo: NewsHub)
Oz Kiwi opinion
A NewsHub article on the issue of homeless young people.
It is well known in the not for profit sector and youth support agencies that there is a cohort of young New Zealanders who fall through the gaps when it comes to welfare. Prime Minister Ardern is correct that these young people are Australia’s responsibility not New Zealand’s.
Before you judge know this – these young people did not choose to come to Australia, their families moved here. For whatever reason they have left home early and there is no youth allowance or social security for them.
Homelessness and financial distress means many turn to criminal activity to feed themselves. Adding to the issue is the lack of an educational pathway either through TAFE or university that sees some young Kiwis leaving school early as they see no future for themselves.
Australian advocates ask NZ PM for help
21 May 2018
Conor Whitten – NewsHub
Nearly 40 organisations have written to Jacinda Ardern, urging the NZ Prime Minister to help hundreds of Kiwi teenagers living on the streets in Australia.
Many of the teenagers have resorted to begging and prostitution after leaving broken homes and being refused help by the Australian government.
They are New Zealand’s forgotten children, aged under 18 and homeless in Australia because their parents can’t help them, and the government won’t.
Their numbers grow and grow.
A former homeless teen Kate told Newshub “their family won’t support them, Centrelink won’t support them, and they end up where I was – it’s not a nice place.”
Kate’s family moved from Northland to Australia for a better life when she was 12 years-old.
However, by the time she was 15, her parents were suffering from serious health problems which forced her to live on the streets.
She says she asked for government assistance three times, but by law the Australian government cannot help.
“It wasn’t like I was a runaway. No, I actually needed help and there was none. It was nowhere to be found.”
Kate became pregnant, sleeping at a tram stop for shelter and suffering a miscarriage when she was just 16.
Still her calls for help were declined, and she resorted to prostitution for an income, she says.
“I just got deeper and deeper into depression and then I ended up suicidal,” Ms xxx explained.
“I was scared. Like, scared scared… But me dying would be cheaper than me living, so what have I got to lose?”
Australian children who can’t live at home can access a homeless youth allowance – but Kiwis are literally left in the cold.
Another former homeless teenager John xxx told Newshub he slept in a tent at a Melbourne skatepark for almost a year.
Like Kate, he left home due to a family breakdown and couldn’t get any support.
“The hardest part was just finding some place warm and having food to eat,” he said.
“[Support] would’ve helped me a lot and that would’ve meant the world to me.”
The organisations who wrote to the Prime Minister say Australia’s allowance for homeless youth must be extended to Kiwi teens – even if New Zealand foots the bill.
If used at the same rate as Australian citizens, it would help 160 New Zealanders and cost less than $2 million a year.
“These are children, and these are homeless children, and should be able to be supported by one of the Governments in Australia in order to access financial support,” Australian Community Lawyer Shorna Moore says.
[Read the NewsHub article].