"You guys just want Benefits!" (Paraphrase of so many, including media) A myth that has kept New Zealander's issues turned on them as an attempt to justify the Australian Social Security Amendment of 2001.

Did you know that New Zealanders were the highest successful working migrant in Australia in 2001? And still are? The most unlikely group of people to put pressure on the Social Security system, yet we are the only migrants living permanently in Australia that are not allowed access. We've been told it was because we would put too much pressure on Australia’s economy. If so, Australia's statistics don’t make any sense at all?

New Zealanders in the labour market

New Zealand citizens have a high labour-force participation rate (78.2 per cent at July 2012) compared with those born in Australia (68.0 per cent) according to the Immigration and Border Control website. Quote, "

New Zealanders in the labour market

New Zealand citizens have a high labour-force participation rate (78.2 per cent at July 2012) compared with those born in Australia (68.0 per cent). At July 2012, people born in New Zealand had an unemployment rate of 4.8 per cent, compared to 4.9 per cent for people born in Australia."

http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/17nz.htm

Yet we’ve been unfairly tainted with the label of dole bludgers. The saddest thing is many of us have taken on this label and shame without realising it’s roots and that it's an outright lie. John Howard himself conceded it wasn’t true, years later of course.  Quote from an interview between Susan Wood (NZ Journalist and John Howard - March, 2013).

"SUSAN: So would you at least acknowledge that the Bondi surfer, the dole-bludging Bondi surfer is a myth?

JOHN: Well, I regard it as a myth.

SUSAN: Because Helen Clark used that language at the time.

JOHN: I mean, they're expressions- I mean, I never used those expressions, to my recollection."

http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news/transcript-john-howard-interview-5379139

I know we probably cringe when we hear the words 'Benefits' being mentioned because in some way it reinforces the belief that that's all us Kiwis are after. Yet on the other hand Kiwis have an outstanding reputation for being hardworking dedicated workers. So, there's either 2 completely different types of Kiwi's co-existing here in Australia or there's something not quite right with the information people have been fed over the past 13 years.

Some areas that benefits cover are these:
- Disability, including mental health
- Single parenting payments
- Sickness
- Redundancy
- Youth allowances

Having a Centrelink number can also entitle us and our whanau/families to access certain services such as: 

- Accessing our Superannuation Hardship Fund
- Job seeking agencies
- Food banks
- Emergency housing
- Woman's refuges
- Disability support

I understand dole bludgers to be someone who chooses not to work because they’re too mangere/lazy. I would think it's safe to say we all feel the same way about such people regardless of who they are or where they come from. 

However, I don't believe people who are sick, injured, disabled, raising children on their own, or made redundant should be put in the same category whatsoever. I also don't believe that our people should feel ashamed of this topic. It's about education and receiving the correct information. Let's not accept what anyone says anymore including media and politicians without getting well researched information first and foremost. 

Accessing benefits is to ensure people are able to survive in a dignified manner and still be able to access the bare basics in life in times of distress and unforeseen circumstances. It's the difference to having a roof over the heads of us and our whanau, and kai on the table to being homeless and utterly invisible in a society that doesn't understand our plight.

Benefits are set up specifically to ensure that all people in a society are cared for in times of need, not want. Restricting benefits or making it near impossible to anyone can have diabolical results as we are now beginning to witness on a daily basis. I personally don't need a benefit nor do I want one. Nor do I want my children to grow up thinking it's their right. But I would like to know that there is help out there should anything ever go wrong.

Forcing people between a rock and a hard place will eventually create enormous disharmony and discord, that's a given. No one can judge what one should do in such situations, nor can one possibly know what one would do if they were in that position. Life happens, that's also a given and people of any background never ask for terrible or tragic things to happen. 

So do we want benefits? The answer is when we absolutely need help and we have no other option but to beg for help, we may be about to have our belongings/assets repossessed, become homeless, can't feed our children and families, urgently need access to services, are in a life threatening situation, have had a death in the family, have had circumstances that have forced us into absolute desperation, then yes. There would be nothing more humbling than to receive support and help to help us through those tough times. We would appreciate being treated with fairness and dignity and not left out in the cold in times of extreme need. Knowing we have access to benefits should we ever need it would come as an enormous relief to thousands of decent, law abiding, tax paying and hard working people.  

Please don't be ashamed of the word 'benefits' nor fall for the trap that media unfairly portray us as. It should be acceptable to ask for help if you desperately need it. Supporting whanau and individuals is the humane and right thing to do. Denying help is denying aid and in our view breaching basic human rights. In this system there is no opportunity to become independent, rather be reduced to beggar status and locked out mercilessly. Looking out for our fellow countrymen is what drives us to speak up. A voice for those who have been silenced and shutdown, who have no options and who have been completely disenfranchised. It's what drives us to unite and become one voice. 

Join us at Iwi n Aus on our journey to doing our best to help all people live a dignified life without discrimination or prejudice. 

Naku noa/Kind regards,

Erina Anderson

www.iwinaus.org