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Lockdown Letters: 'I’ve spent four years paying tax, but like a million others won’t get help during crisis'

In this special series, ‘Lockdown Letters' gives our readers at home and across the globe an opportunity to share their stories about how the coronavirus and the measures to tackle its spread are impacting their lives in these unprecedented times. Please contact stories@independent.ie

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Nervous: Seana Henry has been working in Australia on a temporary visa

Nervous: Seana Henry has been working in Australia on a temporary visa

Nervous: Seana Henry has been working in Australia on a temporary visa

Living on a visa in a foreign country comes with its restrictions. Six months working for one company before having to move on, back-breaking fruit-picking for $5 per bucket for 88 days to qualify for your second-year visa, and no access to Medicare here in Australia.

Not being eligible for welfare should you lose your job under ‘normal’ circumstances is resolvable and acceptable as we are not citizens, and we can replace that job easily with a new one as the workforce is thriving here.

However, being conspicuously absent from the government’s assistance package in a national crisis with closed borders – this is not so normal. This is an emergency.

The running theme of uncertainty, dismay and disbelief on the minds of my peers and myself on temporary visas is somewhat daunting.

The 1.1 million visa holders living in what once was a secure habitat are now wondering if they will have a roof over their heads in a few short weeks.

A large percentage of those have been stood down from their jobs in the hospitality, retail and tourism industry.

The security of my job, as is the case with so many others, is on the fence. I am feeling nervous.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison still has not released a resolvable plan for the more than one million people in Australia on temporary visas who are excluded from the government’s job-keeper and other support payments.

People cannot be left with nothing, with no income to survive.

It shouldn’t be so complex. But it appears that having a grasp of compassion, or a lack of it, is the issue here.

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See, for example, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Here is an admirable leader doing her best for her people – locals and internationals alike – living and working in New Zealand.

That is not how temporary visa holders are treated in Australia, even though we live under the government’s rules, we pay taxes and we lodge our yearly tax return.

I now pay the same amount of tax as a resident does, which supports the economy and aids funds such as the rescue package the government has rolled out.

I, like a million others, have been told I will not receive a cent of this during the crisis.

Why should our hard-earned and paid tax not be reciprocated to us during this pandemic? It should be our entitlement, even for a short period of time to get us through this crisis.

I have called this country home for nearly four years now. I have built a life and a career here. I am not ready to abandon the pathway built, and nor are others.

We are living history. The challenges posed by Covid 19 are similar the world over but everybody’s experience of this emergency will be different. In this special series, ‘Lockdown Letters' gives our readers at home and across the globe an opportunity to share their stories about how the Coronavirus and the measures to tackle its spread are impacting their lives in these unprecedented times.

Please email your submission (400 words max.) to stories@independent.ie along with a photograph. We will publish as many letters as possible on Independent.ie and a selection in print every week.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland


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