Community Law has joined the chorus of concern about the humanitarian crisis developing for migrant workers who have
lost their jobs due to Covid-19 and are now stuck in New Zealand without any income.
“The New Zealand Government has strongly advocated for New Zealand citizens on temporary visas in Australia to receive
income support. Meanwhile, our Government is not providing migrant workers here in New Zealand with the income support
they desperately need.” says Sue Moroney, CEO of Community Law Centres O Aotearoa.
“We’re calling on Minister Sepuloni to use her power under the Social Security Act to grant emergency benefits to
migrant workers because of the epidemic. This current situation where thousands of migrant workers have lost their jobs
through an epidemic and through no fault of their own is the very reason that power exists in the legislation.”
Community Law clients are among those temporary visa holders with no income while the world deals with Covid-19.
“Relying on food parcels and emergency accommodation from stretched Civil Defence Emergency Management funds is not
working and it is unrealistic.”
“Because of Covid-19, they can’t earn a wage, they can’t go home and they have no financial support - even though the
Government has a specific power to address that,” says Sue. “Some of these people have been earning, paying taxes and
paying their own way for years when New Zealand needed them to fill labour shortages. They deserve to be treated better,
just like we insisted New Zealanders in Australia deserved to be treated better”
Community Law has been raising the issue with Government Ministers and ministries since New Zealand entered Alert level
“We initially felt assured the Government would do the right thing, but they have yet to do so,” says Sue. “It is time
the Government showed the same quick, empathetic response to our migrant community that it has been a hallmark of its
response to COVID-19.”
Twenty-four Community Law Centres work out of over 140 locations across New Zealand to provide free legal help and
advice to those who are unable to pay for a private lawyer or who do not have access to legal aid. This advice covers
all aspects of New Zealand’s legal system, including family law, employment issues, housing problems, consumer advice
and criminal law. As well as around 170 staff, Community Law’s services are boosted by over 1,200 volunteer lawyers who
run clinics and deliver free advice and assistance.