Expat Kiwi defies death threats to champion cause
Death threats have failed to deter a former Christchurch preschool teacher from her quest to enhance the futures of Kiwis living in Australia.
Mother-of-five Filipa Payne is the Gold Coast co-ordinator for pressure group Iwi N Aus.
The organisation started about nine months ago in conjunction with Adelaide-based Erina Anderson to lobby Australia's government for greater support for expat New Zealanders.
From Payne's perspective, securing the vote for her children, who have lived in Australia for the majority of their lives is the priority - and that stance infuriated at least one elderly Australian this year.
She received three calls in January and initially disregarded the abuse.
"The first time I thought: ‘what an idiot'. It wasn't until the second phone call where he told me where I lived, told me that he'd been down the road watching and to watch my back because he was going to burn the house down with the kids in it.
"It was a bit of a panic mode there for a while but I have more fear of failing my children than I do of someone trying to kill me." Until she succeeds in her objectives, she does not want her eldest daughters, Taylor and Sarah, to return from Christchurch after studying at the University of Canterbury. That is because as New Zealanders they have no recourse to the emergency assistance offered to Australians.
New Zealanders are routinely denied access to federal government support because they cannot register at Centrelink unless they are a permanent resident or citizen. However, some welfare can be available at state level.
"I don't believe there's a choice personally for them [her daughters] to come over any more," Payne said, before acknowledging she and her husband had not researched the family's move thoroughly enough.
"When we came over, we weren't completely aware of all the rules.
"We were aware we couldn't vote and we were aware we couldn't get benefits."
A click on the Iwi N Aus website has a table showing the disparity in terms of access to services after people cross the Tasman. For example, Australians qualify for a student loan after spending a year in New Zealand.
They also become eligible to vote after spending 12 months in New Zealand. The unemployment benefit and job-seeking assistance is available after two years.
Australians can also join the New Zealand armed forces and get jobs in the public service.
"Why is there a structure that keeps on letting them come in and get everything and the structure in place where we come in and get nothing?" Payne said.
"I can't understand why Australia believes that we're not people to be valued enough in their community."
She blamed the perception of Kiwis moving across to bludge the dole.
"That myth has been blown way out of proportion. We're oppressed because of a myth."