Thursday, October 15, 2015

Moving to Australia? Kiwis beware!

One of the joys of being a Kiwi ie a citizen of New Zealand, is that you can freely move back and forth from New Zealand to Australia. The Trans-Tasmin Mutual Recognition means there is fluidity between the two countries, and certainly makes life a lot easier for New Zealand nurses and midwives obtaining registration in Australia.

However, as a Kiwi who has moved permanently to Australia I have found out that life is not as straight forward as I expected, especially for those who want to settle and retire in Australia. So if you are moving to Australia from New Zealand, here are three things (amongst others!) you need to think about before you arrive.

1. Residency and citizenship
In my naivety I thought that there were conditions that I had to meet after a certain period of time and then as a Kiwi I would be granted permanent residency and citizenship. That is not the case. In fact, it is very difficult to get citizenship here as a Kiwi, especially if you are over the age of 50.  

Just about the only way you get get residency is if you are sponsored by your employer. So if you are thinking about moving over, talk to your potential employer first to make sure he supports this and your situation meets all the criteria for sponsorship.

2. Pension
I was told by my KiwiSaver provider that I could transfer my pension over to Australia, just as Australians may do when they move to New Zealand. And indeed, it is legally possible to do this. However, at the moment only one pension fund in Australia accepts transfer - WA Super. I am about to start the process of transferring my KiwiSaver over to WA Super - I'll let you know how that goes.

3. Impact of not having citizenship
As a Kiwi, I can work, live and die in long as I can self-fund. This means that if I need access to government funding, eg financial help with study (student loan), pension, disability or unemployment benefit, I am not entitled to apply.

There are also a number of jobs I cannot apply for, such as bureaucratic jobs with federal government or armed forces, and I cannot access scholarships such as the Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship and Support Scheme. Obviously I pay tax, but I am unable to vote. The only good news is that educational fees are set at local level, and Kiwis are not required to pay International fees.

This is in direct contrast with how Australians are treated when they move to New Zealand, and there are currently campaigns being led to lobby Australian government to iron out the inconsistencies that face Kiwis in Australia.

Are you a Kiwi living in Australia who has managed to get permanent residency or citizenship? How did you manage it? 

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