Today I read this article http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/89309441/samoan-family-stuck-in-makeshift-mosquitoridden-tent–through-no-fault-of-their-own of a Samoan family who are stuck living in a tent through ‘no fault of their own’. Having read this I feel the level of reporting is a disgrace. It could have been written by a primary aged child for all the investigation that was done into it.
Apparently, everything seemed to be going fine with this family until the dad’s eyes were injured in a sandblasting work incident. This caused him to be unable to see properly and since he was going to have to wait months for an operation he resigned from his job.
In New Zealand, we have an organisation called ACC, Accident Compensation Corporation. This means any accidents that occur are covered medically and that you can get 80% of your salary should you be unable to work. An employer has no reason to not tell an employee that they are entitled to 80% of their salary through ACC because it is paid for by the government, just like a benefit. So I am baffled as to why he wasn’t told about ACC by his employer, workmates, friends and mates from his church. Also when you go to the doctors they ask if it was an accident related injury and you fill in a form to lodge the injury with ACC. The ariticle blames poor English for him not knowing, but doctors have a free translation service and if the doctors were unable to understand the patient this would have been used, so how did this happen? How was he able to hold down a job and do the work required by his bosses if either his English was so poor that he couldn’t understand or that he didn’t have someone helping him translate who could have also helped him at the doctor? How is his English good enough that he can talk to a reporter and find out that he has to wait a few months for an operation, but not good enough to find out about ACC through either doctor or his work? This makes no sense to me.
Next, how did this accident even happen? All serious harm incidents have to be reported under the Health and Safety Act, http://www.worksafe.govt.nz/worksafe/hswa/understanding-hswa/about-the-health-and-safety-at-work-act. This link, http://www.worksafe.govt.nz/worksafe/notifications-forms/notifiable-events/notifiable-injury shows that an eye injury that is bad enough that surgery is going to need to be required is classed as a serious harm incident and needs to be reported to Worksafe New Zealand. Was it? If it was, what was the outcome? Presumably this injury should have been avoided by the use of safety goggles, so what went wrong? Were they not being worn or were they damaged? Was he taking his break to close to others still working? What kind of reporter fails to answer these questions? I imagine Worksafe NZ would have needed either a translator or a colleague who could translate to do the investigation and part of that would be the follow up care and discussions around whether or not the worker could work, so how did ACC paying 80% of his salary not come up at this either? If there was negligence by the employer then the employee maybe able to get some compensation from his employer for his injury, this on top of his 80% of his salary he should have been fine. So how is none of this discussed in this article?
They say the job seekers benefit was not enough to cover their debts but the article only talks about the $1,800 car loan, surely if the guy couldn’t work because of his eyesight he wouldn’t have been able to drive, so why didn’t they sell the car?
The family arrived in New Zealand almost three years ago on the Samoa Quota Residency scheme. I’m not familiar with this scheme but a quick Google search showed that one of the requirement was to be able to speak English, https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/criteria/samoan-quota-scheme-resident-visa, so this brings to question how did they pass the test if their English is so bad they can’t have ACC explained by them by anyone? And if they did pass the test, surely we should be questioning how easy this test is that people can get in who have such a poor grasp of the English language. He has been in the country three years, working around English speaking people for three years, so his English must have been incredibly bad when he arrived in the country.
The Samoa Quota Residency also requires a job offer and a minimum income requirement to support themselves and any family they bring. It does not say what happens if a person loses their job whilst they are in New Zealand and are therefore also not making the minimum income requirement to support their family. Apparently, according to this article, this family is able to get a job seekers benefit and now thanks to a Labour MP have been put to the top of a Housing New Zealand list to get a home. How are they entitled to all this when they have been here for less than three years? I had a work visa for the UK when I was younger, as did many people I know of, and had I not managed to find work I would have had to return home, not been supported by the UK government. I know many people who returned home not because they wanted to but because they had issues finding work, so why are we supporting this family? The cost to fly to Samoa is not that much, they could almost fly home by selling their car. I do not understand why the New Zealand taxpayer is paying for them and I am pretty angry that they are leap frogging New Zealanders for a Housing New Zealand home, who knows, they might have a house in Samoa they can return to.
The article also says that on the same day he was due to go into hospital for his operation the family got evicted. So he has had his operation? It doesn’t say, but if he has had his operation, why can’t he go back to his old job? Why can’t he find a new one given his trade his skills are likely in demand? Was the operation a success? This is kind of a big point for the reporter to gloss over at the end of the story.
There is also no mention of why the wife isn’t working. If her husband had to stop due to poor eyesight then he could have taken over as the person who cares for the house and the kids and she could have worked.
This families situation is a mess, but to call it through no fault of their own is a big stretch. Given you have to be able to read, write and speak English, https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/about-visa/samoan-quota-scheme-resident-visa to obtain the visa and they clearly can’t speak English well or they would be able to get verbal help about ACC for their injury, nor can they read English as the ACC form is handed to you everytime you visit the doctor with an injury, it is very clear that they never fully meet the English requirement and it should be questioned how they got past this.
My biggest concern about this story is how this injury happened. It seems to me that it was a very preventable injury and it deeply concerns me that it doesn’t seem to be investigated so if is was the fault of the employer, such as faulty, or nonexistent safety gear, then other employees could be in danger.
I find the report on this families story to be very one sided and lacking in any detail and when you really think through their situation there are a lot of red flags that should be looked at and dealt with in more detail. To me, it seems strange when they clearly have family back home since they sent money to help when the uncle died, why the family don’t return home rather than living in a tent? As much as the left complains, the family must be quite well supported in NZ for them to choose tent living rather than returning home and why they don’t go home is a question I would like to know. My guess is that New Zealand’s benefit system is so generous and if they live in a tent for a while they will get a state house and housing supplement, so essentially the house for free. Since state houses are rarely assessed this will set them up for life. Staying in New Zealand is playing the long game, a bit of hardship and then everyone else will pay for them whilst they get a free ride. This just is very wrong.