27 September 2011

New Zealand migrants doing it tough in Australia

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The Australian Government has expressed concern about a growing 'underclass' of New Zealand immigrants to Australia who has been disadvantaged by changes to the immigration system.

New Zealand skilled migration

New Zealanders are experiencing hardships in Australia since non-permanent-residents were barred from accessing welfare benefits

According to a report by Radio New Zealand today, Australian government documents indicate that New Zealanders emigrating to Australia face a growing number of challenges and hardships due to Australian immigration changes, including the introduction of a bilateral agreement between the neighbouring countries in February 2001.

The reforms in question saw New Zealand-born holders of an Australian visa become exempt from social security benefits unless they hold permanent residency. 

According to the Radio New Zealand report, even New Zealand immigrants who are "victims of family violence" and "children estranged from their parents".

The documents reportedly also detail the difficulty many prospective New Zealand migrants have in being granted skilled migration visas due to the "rigid eligibility criteria" required for Australian immigration.

Vicky Va'a, a community worker from Queensland, has told Radio New Zealand that she receives at least 40 phone calls per day from New Zealanders experiencing problems in Australia and that many immigrants suffering from a lack of access to social security are "too proud to go home".

New Zealand Minister for Foreign Affairs Murray McCully said the bilateral agreement is currently being reviewed.

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