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Help for Pacific islanders struggling through COVID-19 in Queensland

By Liam Fox, ABC News | October 23 2020 – 7:00am

An NGO working in the Australian state of Queensland says there has been a spike in out-of-work Pacific islanders and New Zealanders during the COVID-19 economic slowdown, because they’re not entitled to most Australian welfare.

The not-for-profit group YFS is helping Pacific migrants rebound from the impacts of the COVID-19 economic slowdown.

In Logan in Brisbane’s south, YFS finds jobs for people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes.

“50 per cent of the referrals that have come through are New Zealand citizens and Pacific Islanders simply because they’re not eligible for benefits,” YFS employment mentor Vanessa Nieuwenhuizen said.

“What else can they do? The only thing they can do is find work.”

Anne Korre was one of those in need of help, unable to access welfare or subsidised healthcare.

She and her husband moved to Australia two years ago from PNG to find a better life for their two young children.

Her husband was working as a mining engineer flying in and out of a natural gas project in the PNG highlands.

But when COVID-19 struck and international borders were closed he was stuck in Australia and lost his job.

“It was hard, it was really hard because here in Australia it’s different to where we come from,” she said.