Workers Ending Up Stranded

Workers ending up stranded

The Southland Times
Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Many young overseas workers flocking to Queenstown are getting stranded in the resort without money to fly home.

More than 1300 work permits have been approved by Immigration New Zealand in Queenstown during the past five months.

Strengthening Families co-ordinator Angela Dolan said many of them came to Queenstown unprepared and some became stranded because they did not have the fare to fly home. Mrs Dolan said many workers were unaware health services were not immediately subsidised in New Zealand and it could cost up to $90 to visit a doctor.

Others were caught out by high taxes, high electricity costs in winter, and rising petrol and grocery prices this year had created even more pressure for many of these overseas workers, Mrs Dolan said. “They all hear from their friends it's fun, it's a party town and that's great, but when something goes wrong they don't have the money to pay,” she said.

Mrs Dolan heads a community inter-agency group that wants the Immigration Service, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and employers to produce brochures and a webpage highlighting catches.

Although work permits were approved on the proviso that workers had enough money to support themselves, Mrs Dolan was not sure this was happening.

Happiness House manager Nicki Smith said information brochures would help raise awareness. Her organisation had helped overseas families with children, especially during winter, who were not entitled to any welfare support in New Zealand.

“There definitely needs to be more information before they come over here and the people encouraging them to come need to make sure they are aware,” Ms Smith said.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Clive Geddes said an information page could be added to the council and Destination Queenstown websites, which could be picked up by employment agencies' sites also.