Jennifer Hollstein and Martin Lopez Behar are on temporary working visas in Gladstone and have lost work and can't go home.
Jennifer Hollstein and Martin Lopez Behar are on temporary working visas in Gladstone and have lost work and can't go home.

‘Going home is impossible’: International workers displaced

IT WAS meant to be Jennifer Hollstein's dream job.

Instead her time in Australia has turned into a nightmare trying to make her savings last until she can work again.

The Scottish national is on her first working holiday visa working as a diver on the Great Barrier Reef.

"Working on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in research and conservation, is something I've been working towards my whole dive career for five years," Ms Hollstein said.

"I was really proud to get here to this point and it's frustrating because the situation has caused interruptions to the schedule.

"I'm literally on the doorstep of my dream job and I can't do it."

She said her employer has found ways to work with the government health restrictions but she remains without work for at least another month because she's a casual.

"This is eating into the time of our visas but also massively into the finances," she said.

It's a similar story for 28-year-old Argentinian Martin Lopez Behar.

He's on his second working holiday and had a hospitality job on Heron Island which was suspended when the island closed.

"People tell you 'You should be home' but I can't go home," Mr Lopez Behar said.

"My country closed its borders even for residents.

"Even if I wanted to, there's no flights to take us to Argentina.

"Going home is impossible, unless I get a kayak and I go through the ocean."

He said he was frustrated that despite paying taxes he isn't eligible for any JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments.

"If I was in Argentina, Africa, South-East Asia, I wouldn't expect help from a government because governments are so poor," he said.

"Australia is a first-world country, it's a very developed country, they do have the money to do it.

"Everywhere in Europe, if you had a job they're paying you 80 per cent of your salary, even in New Zealand, who is your neighbour, is paying 80 per cent of salaries to working visas."

He'd like to see temporary visas extended including for people who returned home so they don't lose the opportunity to work and live in Australia.

Although it is possible for Ms Hollstein to go back to the United Kingdom, expensive flights and personal safety concerns make it impractical.

On Sunday the UK had 108,696 coronavirus cases compared to 6533 here.

"I'm actually safer here than if to go back to the UK," she said. "There's a lot of factors it's not just about money.

"You can't make a plan right now, it's just about trying to survive."