26 Aug 2012

Some NZers struggling in Australia

10:26 am on 26 August 2012

The number of New Zealanders moving to Australia is soaring, but increasing numbers of those who make the move are struggling to get by in their new country.

Changes to Australian laws in 2001 mean New Zealanders are now classed as temporary residents and do not qualify for a full range of benefits during hard times.

Almost 54,000 people from New Zealand chose to make Australia home in the 12 months to June.

Marshall McDonald of Levin moved to Melbourne and is living with his sister. He says whanau support has been vital, as relocating in his late 40s has been difficult.

''Getting a job was pretty hard,'' he said. ''You need to get a job straight away.''

Often emigrants cite work and weather as drawcards. But many do not realise they will have to cope without full state support if things go wrong.

Salvation Army welfare worker Therese Dempsey says the Army in Logan City, Queensland, is helping increasing numbers of New Zealand citizens who can't find work or are struggling to pay rent.

To qualify for a full range of benefits, emigrants need to gain permanent residency and then citizenship.

But this now involves matching Australian immigration requirements such as age, work skills, health and financial backing.

An advocate calling for equal treatment for New Zealanders living in Australia, David Faulkner says the temporary status is being used to discriminate against New Zealanders.

In a complete turn around from the situation in the 1980s and early 1990s, Mr Faulkner says Australian Census data released in the last few weeks shows that almost 90% of New Zealanders who have moved in the last decade have not gained citizenship.

And with the federal Treasurer aiming to balance the budget, he says it is unlikely there will be changes to make the situation fair and equal.

More about the challenges facing New Zealanders living in Australia can be heard on Insight.