Is Australia really the land of new opportunity?

Is Australia really the land of new opportunity?

 

FALEN TUUGA STEVENSON investigates the growing trend that leads many Maori and Pacific families over the ditch each year.

 

One of my best friend’s has been trying to get me to move over to Australia for a few years. Although I would love to go there to be closer to her and my extended family I just don’t see myself moving there anytime soon... Or ever for that matter.

 

For years people have been leaving New Zealand for Australia and, in recent years, more Maori and Pacific people have jumped the ditch in search of higher wages, warmer climates and a better life.

 

According to The New Zealand Business Review departures accelerated to a record 53,000 this time last year. So what seems to lead many people to Australia?

 

With shows such as The GC, set in Queensland’s Gold Coast, the growing Maori community all seem to say that money is one of the main factors that lead them to move. As well as this, many see Perth as a gold mine, as most mining jobs offer employees with incomes triple to those they would have made in New Zealand.

 

Also, friends who are recent graduates have found that there are more jobs over there in their respective fields. New Zealand’s tight workforce leaves some no choice but to leave.

 

Blinded by opportunity?
I know that Australia has provided many Maori and Pacific families with financial stability but many Maori and Pacific across the ditch are in fact struggling.

 

Most who go there are not Australian citizens and find that they are not even eligible for residency because they do not meet tough skills requirements. As a result, this means that individuals and families are not entitled to benefits or student loan schemes.

 

With restrictions to permanent residency, Maori and Pacific are becoming guest workers paying full tax but with few rights.

 

After a conversation with an aunty of mine living in Australia, she says that a lot of families that go over are from lower socio economic areas in New Zealand. It is these families who end up facing citizenship woes and other financial issues.

 

These families see Australia only as an opportunity, without realising the potential pitfalls. Besides being blinded by the fact that there are no safety nets, they also have little chance of gaining full rights or citizenship, however long they might live there.

 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard receiving a hongi greeting

 

Education is an important factor
The New Zealand Herald recently reported on how some parents who have moved to Australia have had to tell their high-achieving children not to even consider university because there is no way they can afford to attend.

 

“Despite good degrees and years in the country, they remain ‘temporary’ residents under the 2001 social security rules,” states the article.

 

“Most focus remains on the plight of low-paid expats whose children are trapped in a poverty cycle that blocks them from the chance to gain skills needed for decent jobs and permanent visas, condemning many to low-paid work or unemployment.”

 

The story of Tongan student Richard Niu, who was awarded a University of Queensland scholarship, his story was one of the first of its kind that I had heard of. His family moved to Australia in 2009 after living in New Zealand.

 

If he hadn’t gained a scholarship, maybe he, too, would be another student to fall to the pressures of expensive tertiary fees. Luckily for Richard, scholarships are the exception.

 

You can view the story here.

 

The majority of my father’s family moved from New Zealand in the late 1980s-early 90s.

 

My grandparents both fell in love with the country after a holiday to visit relatives. After settling in Logan City, south of Brisbane, they were one of the first Pacific families in their neighbourhood and over the years I have seen the Maori and Pacific population grow.

 

Would I have furthered myself into tertiary study or would I have gone straight into the work force like many of my cousins did? If I was in Australia, I probably wouldn’t have had that choice.

 

Do you think Australia is the land of new opportunity? We would love to hear your feedback.

 

By Falen Tuuga Stevenson
NS-13

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Posted Comments

Ms Coconut! 07-08-2013 16:06:03
Having moved to North Queensland 8 years ago with a young family and husband has been a real challenge and also a learning experience for us. I guess for us it was easier because we came here with qualifications and was able to survive given the restrictions we had to live with as temporary citizens. However the move has also made us more accountable and stronger in many ways. Just recently I was awarded a research training place at QUT to complete my PhD and is thankful to Queensland for giving me this opportunity . So it is not all grim . My daughter is now applying for scholarships to attend Uni next year and may I say my husband and I formed a group in Townsville and was instrumental in lobbying the government for NZ citizens to be able to have easier access to student HECCS here in Australia. We are pleased to see as of Jan 2015 all NZ SGV citizens will now be able to access this HECCS to pay for student fees at Uni. In the meantime we may have to find other means to pay for our daughthers uni fees until then. Maybe one day we may return "home" but for the time being we will continue to work and to utilise opportunities as they cross our paths.
Pacificfern 23-01-2013 07:27:12
Lived, worked, studied, got marriied to an Aussie and had 2 kids born there as well. After 22 years there I am now back home and loving it. The trappings are the same as they have been since the early 80's. Many kiwi's back then crossed the ditch with no quals and struggled. I went over as a young 20 year old on a cadetship in 1982, went through college and Uni, had a mortgage and had great jobs through my career and now I am home to share my experiences with young kiwi's. My son is at Massey Uni and Loves it, my daughter married to a Kiwi lad who is a high school teacher and they have our first grandchild. NZ is home for all of us including my Aussie wife. Yea Boi!!!!
Kimberley 22-01-2013 15:39:55
I think Australia is all good while you're willing and able to work and take the opportunities when you're in your 20's and 30's. Like if you're willing to go and work in the mines for example you can make a lot of money. But when it comes down to it and you face any kind of hardship, like if you injure yourself while working or you lose your job, then its a harsh place. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and work real hard, make the money while you can, then come back home to NZ a bit better off.
Bazza 22-01-2013 15:33:07
Take no notice of them comments mates and shielas. It's bonza over here in Auzzie cept' for all them bloody poisonous little buggers you see in the outback.
Bob 22-01-2013 13:11:45
I think there is plenty of opportunity in Aussy, though rushing over blindly without realising the potential dangers is not the way to go about it. Having a plan as to what you are going to do, where you will stay, and all those sort of things is essential to turning such opportunity into success.
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