Australia What finding work as a migrant in rural Australia is really like

04:50  19 october  2019
04:50  19 october  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Before moving to Australia, Malak Abdou was a veterinarian in Egypt for 18 years.

He had his own clinic and taught students at an agricultural vocational school. Then he moved to Tasmania.

"I remember this day, I had been in the Hobart airport, by myself and I didn't speak one word of English and I was looking for anyone to help," Mr Abdou said.

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Mr Abdou was able to find a bus that was travelling to the city and made his way to the hotel.

The very next day he began looking for jobs.

"I applied for 99 jobs in two days, and at the end of the week I got 99 refusals," he said.

Mr Abdou sought help from numerous organisations in Hobart, including a job agency.

"She looked at me and told me, 'who brought you here? No opportunities in Tasmania, go to the mainland," he said.

There has been an increase in the number of skilled migrants moving to Tasmania, with 609 regional visas granted for the state between July and September this year — in comparison to the 248 regional visas granted for the same period last year.

However, there are challenges in attracting and retaining skilled migrants in regional areas such as Tasmania.

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Population attraction coordinator at the Northern Tasmania Development Corporation, Edward Obi, said there was a small window to ensure people stayed in the state long-term.

"Once a newcomer, within zero to six months, [if they] cannot form a bond with the place, automatically he starts thinking of leaving," he said.

While there are struggles in finding employment and housing, the biggest hurdle is the lack of accessible information.

"Looking at the rigorous process an international migrant goes through to come here, it is just information he needs to integrate," Mr Obi said.

"Tasmanians are welcoming but they're not equipped to welcome multicultural people and they're just as lost as the visitors."

CEO of the Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania, Alison O'Neill, said for most migrants who moved to Tasmania the cornerstone of their experience started with employment, as well as self-worth and a connection to the community.

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"We actually find that in some of the smaller communities there is a real sense of welcome," she said.

"But having those skills to be able to assist them with things like cultural awareness, faith-based opportunity or how to connect into employment perhaps needs a little bit more support.

"With skilled migrants, they really just want to be here and actually want to contribute to the future of Tasmania."

'Small things need huge encouragement'

Mr Obi said he knew one man who struggled to integrate into the community, so he left the state.

"It's a really sad one because this person has a 489 visa, and a 489 visa dictates that you remain in Tasmania for at least two years, otherwise you will not get the permanent residency," he said.

"And he left anyway, to Melbourne, because it was better economically for him and he felt more accepted there."

Luckily for Mr Abdou, he was able to find a job on a farm at Railton in the state's north.

However, he cannot work as a veterinarian as this requires further study to meet Australian standards.

"If I want to study I have to move to the mainland. Unfortunately we don't have any veterinarian college or university in Tasmania," Mr Abdou said.

While some migrants move to capital cities for further opportunities, there is hope that with increased support skilled migrants and their families will settle and remain in regional areas.

Mr Abdou is grateful to be living in Tasmania, but he recognises the lack of support readily available for migrants moving to regional areas.

"When you are newly arrived, even small things need huge encouragement," he said.

"So, new people, new language, new currency, new car, new traffic rules and you are by your own."

For now, Mr Abdou and his family are grateful to be living in Tasmania.

"I was so blessed to be in north-west Tasmania. Now I have been surrounded by beautiful people."

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