Blogs, posts, sleepless nights, articles stuck to walls, Facebook, Oz Kiwi. Our household has all of a sudden been turned upside down in one short week.
Strange discussions in the dining room have somehow overshadow our regular daily yarns and routines. The family are somewhat on edge because Mum has all of a sudden changed, literally overnight. She’s obsessed with reading articles, on the computer non-stop and she has this really worried look on her face all the time. She’s not gone to the gym all week and she’s gone really quiet, which is unlike her. She’s completely preoccupied but we’re not sure why. 
Five teenage kids wonder what’s happening but they’re a little nervous to ask. Brand new packet of highlighters, blue tack, A4 paper and highlighted sheets of printed articles stuck to our newly painted dining room walls after we’d all been instructed to not touch them or else! 
There’s a sense of something peculiar going on. Nervously Daniel finally plucks up the courage to break the deafening sound of the keypad tapping and asks, “Um, what…ah why are those sheets stuck to the wall Edz?” I explain to him it’s just something I’m researching. 
I think he’s twigged on to some of our conversations, he’s good like that. Daniel is almost 14yrs old and has a hyper ability to sense when things aren’t quite right. He stammers and adds, “Umm….is it ummmm…..something to do with New Zealanders not being allowed to become Australian citizens or something?” I pause and reply without making any eye contact, “Yeah, something like that.” 

He feels a bit braver now and wants to know more so he asks, “Why is it a problem? Won’t Australia let you’s become citizens?” At this point I’m reminded that Daniel is extremely sensitive. I realise I need to be very careful as to how I respond.

Daniel has a huge sense of empathy and becomes very upset when he thinks someone has been treated unfairly. Daniel suffers from an extreme sense of low self esteem and rejection that cripples him in his life everyday. 

I find the right words and explain in a childlike language how it is for us New Zealanders who arrived after 2001. After our discussion Daniel turns to me and says these words, “So even though you live here, you’ve been here for 6 years, your whole family live here, you own a home, you work, you take care of us, that doesn’t matter?” I look at him with a reassuring look and say “Yeah, but it’s alright. So long as nothing goes wrong we’ll be fine.” Daniel replies, “So really you’re just like tourists?” I laugh and say, “Yep Daniel, we’re just like tourists!” 

Daniel is a beautiful young man who can be often challenging but we all love him very much. He has been a blessing to our whanau be it through distressing and unimaginable circumstances. If we can’t live here any longer due to unforeseen circumstances that are beyond our control we hope to be able to take Daniel back home with us where we can continue to care for him and be his Kiwi whanau. You see, Daniel is our Australian born foster son who now belongs with us. 

E. Anderson Adelaide, SA

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AuthorErina Anderson

Our family arrived in SA in 2007, bought our own home two years later, have traveled and we really appreciate the opportunities and lifestyle that Australia has had to offer us. 

We have built strong networks of close friends and colleagues as we came on our own to search for adventure and warmer weather. We also wanted to show our children there’s a big wide world out there ready to explore. We have made Australia our home and are especially connected now through our beautiful Aussie/Kiwi grandchildren.  

We knew we weren’t allowed any benefits before arriving and we were fine with that. We had saved money and organised ourselves in case of any hardship. But sooner or later your own safety net will run out. Fortunately we were able to scrape through some tricky times during that settling in period.

As a parent of a large family however there is always that thought in the back of my mind, ‘What if something were to go wrong?’ Even now 6yrs down the track. We’ve done everything we can with regards to insurances etc and we’re ever mindful that we need to be extra cautious with our money, just in case.

We considered it an opportunity to be able to come to Australia without the rigmarole of visas like other migrants need. However, in the time of our arrival laws were still being rewritten with tighter and tighter constraints. 

We have looked into Permanent Residency and Citizenship several times over the years but it just seems to be getting harder and harder. For us there is no opportunity to meet any of the criteria. 

One of our deepest concerns has been that our children have a very limited chance at a higher education. No pathways to students loans or youth allowances. This impacted our decision for two of our older children to leave school in Yr 11 to seek employment. 

It seemed strange to me at the time that the purpose of Youth Allowance was to support and encourage youth to stay in school and get an education yet it became obvious that our NZ children were the only group that were excluded from this wide belief.

I am concerned that not all children are being treated equally and fairly with regards to educational opportunities. Coming from a country that used to practice isolating Maori and Pacific Islanders from a higher education I am very aware of what happens to a minority group that is treated differently. 

I am an educator and understand the effects are not just short term dependency on a Social System but generational.  I believe this is an urgent matter that needs addressing because evidence historically shows that it will only be a matter of time before society starts having to deal with the negative affects of a growing population of youth who are disenfranchised, displaced, singled out, isolated and uneducated. 

Erina Anderson, SA

Posted
AuthorErina Anderson