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They change countries to take up new jobs. But when these fall through or they can no longer work, thousands are finding there’s no safety net to catch them.
It was more than a decade after Hana* moved to Australia from New Zealand that she discovered there wasn’t a social safety net to catch her.
The single mother moved to Queensland in 2008 for work, and has worked multiple jobs over the last 11 years to support her two children.
“Life looked great,” she says. “We’d go out for meals and buy clothes and lived a great life. But that was all taken away unexpectedly.”
Just over a year ago Hana witnessed a suicide while working as a social worker. She has been diagnosed with severe PTSD, depression and anxiety by psychiatrists and doctors, and has medical certificates confirming she will be unable to work in the near future.
But when she turned to Centrelink for support while waiting for an application for the disability support pension, Hana discovered that she was ineligible for virtually all forms of welfare, including sickness allowance, because she is in Australia on a special category visa (SCV), which allows New Zealand citizens to live in Australia indefinitely without obtaining permanent residency or citizenship.