17 Oct 2013

Sickness beneficiaries denied help in Australia - Iwi in Aus

7:06 pm on 17 October 2013

The leader of a Maori rights movement in Australia says New Zealanders who get seriously sick and need ongoing medical care are one of the most vulnerable groups in Australia.

The Iwi in Aus campaign is raising awareness about 2001 immigration laws that limit New Zealanders gaining Australian citizenship, voting rights, and government benefits.

Erina Anderson says she is increasingly hearing stories of whanau who can't access sickness benefits and are suffering because of certain laws targeting only New Zealand migrants.

She says it is affecting those New Zealanders who have been living in Australia and paying taxes there for 12 years at the most.

Ms Anderson says if migrants become ill and can't work they can't get any benefits and get into desperate situations with some living in extreme hardship.

She says she's even heard stories of New Zealand families being turned away from receiving a special six month one off sickness benefit - leaving them in dire straits.