Australia’s new leadership unlikely to help struggling New Zealanders

Australia won't help Kiwis
Felicity Chapman, a New Zealander living in Brisbane. (Source: TVNZ)

Australia’s new leadership unlikely to help struggling New Zealanders living there – advocate group

27 August 2018

Advocates for Kiwis in Australia say the country’s latest change in Prime Minister is unlikely to lead to any improvement for struggling New Zealanders living there.

Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister on Friday.

Law changes in Australia in 2001 saw New Zealanders living there barred from accessing social security benefits, even in times of severe financial hardship.

One particularly vulnerable group is domestic abuse survivors.

New Zealander Mike Iafeta runs a non-government funded charity The Koha Shed Australia, and says more than 300 Kiwi domestic abuse victims have come to him for help in the last six years.

“We all live and abide and respect those laws, but certainly there are cracks. And unfortunately it’s New Zealanders and New Zealand mums and their children who fall through those gaps,” Mr Iafeta said.

“We will rely on our Kiwi people to look after our Kiwi people because certainly the government here and the government back home in New Zealand don’t give a f***.”

A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Social Services told 1 NEWS that under certain circumstances some Kiwis may be eligible for a one-off crisis payment, and outlined other services available to everyone – like phone counselling. [Contact Centrelink for more information].

Felicity Chapman, a New Zealander living in Brisbane, tried to escape her Australian ex-husband after she says, “he screamed and yelled and abused me”.

But requests for financial help from the Government were turned down because she’s a Kiwi. She went to refuges, but being ineligible for funding meant she couldn’t stay.

“You pay your taxes. I’ve lived here for 16 years. This is my home now, and I needed help and just didn’t get it,” she said.

Ms Chapman did use services available to everyone, and received some family benefits, but says they weren’t enough.

Desperate, she fled to New Zealand with her sons. Her ex-husband accused her of kidnapping and police hauled them back, a judge since awarding him primary custody, citing concerns about her parenting capability.

She’d been diagnosed with stress, PTSD, anxiety and depression.

But Ms Chapman said she was speaking out to 1 NEWS to save “someone else having to go through the pain I’ve gone through”.

Mr Iafeta said he doesn’t understand how the two countries “can’t just sit at a table and say ‘this is wrong, let’s try and help’.”

Kiwi advocates say Australia’s new leadership is unlikely to help, leaving more women like Ms Chapman to fall through the cracks.

[Read the TVNZ article].

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