WelCom July 2020:
The Wellington Archdiocese Filipino chaplaincy outreach group worked during the Covid-19 lockdown with Challenge 2000 and Wellington Catholic Social Services to provide emergency food parcels to over 70 Filipino construction and road workers in the Wellington region, living on 80 per cent of their usual wages.
Filipino chaplain Fr Marlon Tebellin says Filipinos have high levels of resilience and a way of handing problems over to God, as expressed in the saying used in difficult times: ‘Bahala na ang Diyos’ – ‘Everything to God’.
However, Fr Marlon said many workers based here face great uncertainty about employment, and because they are unable to support family left behind in the Philippines, also facing restricted movement and loss of income because of Covid-19 impacts. Although the New Zealand based workers’ incomes have dropped, they continue to pay high rent and other costs, as part of their employment conditions in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Government has advocated New Zealanders working in Australia, who contribute through their taxes to the social security net, should not be excluded from the benefits of that social security net. While this is commendable, the same situation applies to thousands of workers in New Zealand on temporary work visas.
The temporary Covid-19 wage subsidy is being paid to people in New Zealand on temporary work visas, as well as to citizens and residents, but the same access is not operating in terms of our social welfare system.
Section 64 of the Social Security Act 2018 specifically provides for emergency benefits to be extended in the situation of an epidemic. Cardinal John Dew said in a May letter to the Prime Minister and Minister of Social Development, ‘It is hard to imagine the use of this Section of the Act other than in the unprecedented circumstances in which we currently find ourselves.’
To contribute towards emergency assistance for people on temporary work visas in New Zealand, and others from migrant worker or refugee backgrounds, you can donate to Wellington Catholic Social Services by internet banking: 02-0560-0213864-000 or contact CSS on (04) 385-9642.