Visa vendetta

Temporary visa holder Morgan Price speaks about his COVID-19 struggles. Video: Bri Dugan.

The list of things Morgan Price loves about his chosen home is long.

The Englishman loves Australia’s career opportunities, the university system and our beaches.

Most of all, he loves how everyone is treated equally.

But, on March 23, Morgan was left “high and dry” after losing his job and not being eligible for the government’s JobSeeker payments because he’s on a temporary visa.

“It’s a very lonely feeling when the country you love enough to live, work and spend your life in just leaves you to figure it all out for yourself,” Mr Price says.

The Perth resident has lived, worked and studied in Australia for almost six years. He has even started a family here.

“I’ve worked hard to become an Australian. The process for citizenship isn’t easy … but how the government has treated us [temporary visa holders] makes me question the whole system,” he says.

“Australia doesn’t look so nice and shiny any more.”

Limited to only being allowed to work twenty hours a week means Mr Price struggles to build up his savings.

“Even if they change the rules to be able to work more than twenty hours, you can’t get a job anywhere right now.

“Everything is either temporarily closed or shutdown.”

Mr Price isn’t the only one who is affected by this.

There are 2.17 million temporary visa holders in Australia. Of this, the majority of them are ineligible for the government’s JobSeeker initiative.

The Centrelink website for JobSeeker. Photo: Brianna Dugan.

Senior lecturer at the Centre for Human Rights Education Dr Lisa Hartley says temporary visa holders are currently living in a vulnerable state of fear and uncertainty.

“These are people who are allowed to work within Australia, contribute to society and pay taxes …yet they aren’t eligible for the JobSeeker payment,” Dr Hartley says.

“It’s just shocking. They can’t go home, they can’t help their families, there is just no security for them … how are they meant to survive? “

There are many barriers temporary visa holders have to go through in order to obtain their right to stay in Australia.

“The process is long, frustrating and grueling,” says Dr Hartley.

“…watching them face this situation, I see so many [refugees] crumble.

“These are usually very adaptable and resourceful people … but if you continually put barriers up for them over and over again it takes its toll,” she says.

“This is their home, and they are now at risk of destitution.”

With government restrictions still in place to monitor COVID-19, many visa holders are still affected by the daily struggles and cost of living.