I am an Australian citizen, but my partner is a New Zealand citizen

We both came to Australia in late 2009 to escape a life of addiction in New Zealand. 

I was born in Australia, but I moved to NZ as a young child and spent 18-years there. 

My partner is dyslexic, so finding a job was not exactly easy for him.  As well, he was needing treatment for hepatitis C. 
In 2011, the Australian hospital system granted my partner a very expensive course of medication for treating hepatitis C.  Don’t worry, we are more than grateful for this opportunity, but it was very difficult supporting my partner on my own.  As someone that is self-employed, and Australian, I never once applied for social welfare, as I am an honest person and did not want to “cheat” the system.  Even though the nurses would all comment that my partner could apply for a sickness benefit, especially because it was really hard to take care of someone full-time as well as work full-time, I resisted.  And so my partner completed treatment, and found himself without a job (or income).

My partner was not unemployed out of choice.  As we see on the news every day, unemployment is rife in Australia at the moment.  Sometimes, we would talk about going to Centrelink for help, but only as a last resort.  Why? Because as an Australian that works full-time, I pay my taxes and appreciate the fact that social welfare is not something to taken for granted.  I was quite happy to support my partner.

However, I fell sick earlier this year, as I live with untreated hepatitis C.  My partner is dyslexic, hence finding work is that much more difficult for him.  Luckily, he was given a part-time job of 1-2 days per week after volunteering for a community service.  But working 1-2 days a week was not enough, and as he is a self-employed person with an ABN number paying considerable tax in Australia, he thought he would be entitled to some assistance with respect to finding employment.  So, he went to an employment agency on his own accord that is only for people with disabilities.  After his first appointment, they advised him that he would need to go to Centrelink and get a few client numbers.  And so off to Centrelink he went, only to be told he could only get 1 of 3 numbers, because as a New Zealand citizen, he is not entitled to social welfare in Australia.  This is despite the fact he has been living here in Australia for nearly 4-years, paying taxes and NOT claiming social welfare. 

We are engaged, but I discovered on the telephone the other day that getting married does not automatically entitle a New Zealander to citizenship.  Instead, we have to go through a lengthy process of applying for a sponsorship for him.  If we get married, we would have to apply for a partner sponsorship visa, and only after a year would we know if it gets accepted.  So, there is still no guarantee... and guess how much it is to file for a partner sponsorship visa? In the vicinity of $5k plus! 

We are honest people, living and working in Australia.  We pay our taxes.  We have never claimed assistance from the Government.  We have continued to struggle as we have overcome our addictions, which is why we chose to come here... but don’t forget, I’m an Australian... and New Zealand is our commonwealth cousin in this part of the world.  After all, we have the luxury of reciprocal health benefits, such as Medicare. 
But is this logical? No.
Is it fair? No. 
Will we give up the fight? No.

AuthorErina Anderson