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Temporary Visa Holders Denied Support Before Christmas

People here on work and student visas who are trying to remain in New Zealand to find employment and continue their studies are finding they don’t meet the criteria for accessing emergency benefits, leaving them without any assistance over the Christmas break.

“Many members in the community are being denied support as they don’t have proof they’re returning home, despite being here to work and study which is leaving them extremely stressed and worried about how they’re going to cope during the break and beyond” says coordinator for Auckland Action Against Poverty Brooke Stanley Pao.

“The government is actively making it harder for people on temporary visas to access the support required to alleviate hardship by determining which communities are more deserving of support during this time, further entrenching racist ideas about our value as human beings. People who have never had to access income support but now have to due to Covid are now finding the lack of humanity MSD shows specific groups in our community unbelievable.

“We’re perceived internationally to be a country that leads with kindness, when in reality we continue to centre the needs of businesses and the economy over human lives. Only allowing temporary visa holders support until February puts added pressure on people to organise the changes in their visas before then, and that process can be an extremely lengthy one.

“The government was explicit on adopting a high trust model when administering the covid income relief payment and wage subsidies to businesses, and if Work and Income operated from this model then we wouldn’t have so many people finding it difficult to get the support they need when they're struggling to pay their bills and make ends meet.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, especially when life becomes extremely hard. People who are here away from their families and wider support networks contribute to the diversity and vibrancy of our communities.

“We’re calling on the government to adopt a high trust model at Work and Income as the framework for their practices so they can then be the service providers people can trust. This will also allow them to relax the eligibility criteria for temporary visa holders, so that they can access what they need to live freer lives. Extending the time frame they can receive support is also paramount. Anything short of this is continuing to uphold the racist and oppressive ideologies on which this current system was built”.

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