Blokes About Town
Since the First Fleet dropped anchor in 1788, close to 10 million settlers have moved from across the world to start a new life in Australia, helping to shape our multicultural society. Ingrid Nelson caught up with some recent migrants who shared their story and some of the challenges they face.
As an emigrant from my birth country of Ireland to Australia with my family in the late 1980s, I am all too familiar with some of the challenges faced by those who make the brave move to start a new life in a foreign country. A teenager at the time, it was only some years later I realised how difficult such a move halfway across the world with three young children in tow must have been for my parents.
There’s the friends and family you leave behind, language barriers, climate adjustments, cultural differences, employment … the list goes on. But for most, the rewards, including Australia’s enviable climate and laid-back lifestyle, are well worth the initial upheaval.
Life is challenging, it’s up and down. When you are at the bottom, the only way is up…”
Australia is a multi-cultural melting pot, it’s what makes us so special. Migrants to our country bring with them a plethora of skills, many of them starting their own businesses and creating employment opportunities for others.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting two highly-skilled and educated migrants to Australia, Hamed Asil and Juan Altamirano, who have left their home countries of Iran and Chile respectively to start a new life in Australia. And despite finding it difficult to secure employment due to language and cultural barriers, both men are optimistic about the future and 100 per cent certain they have made the right decision. Joining us was Nambour Community Centre coordinator Mark Wischnat who is involved in the migrant acceleration program which has been a great support to both men. Co hosting the lunch was my partner in crime and fellow Irish immigrant Mr Gerry Morris. Here are their stories.
I’m originally from Iran and moved to Australia in 2011. It was a big change. I had my own successful business with seven employees and things were good, but I had visited family in Australia and I was hooked by the lifestyle. I wanted a new challenge and I decided to take the plunge. It wasn’t easy but I’m glad I made the move. Every day I am 100 per cent sure I made the right decision. My previous background was in importing medical equipment. When I arrived in Australia I was looking at exporting medical equipment from Australia to Iran but I found it very difficult due to the rules and regulations and policies etc. It was the same when I looked into importing medical equipment from Europe. Getting a licence is very hard. So despite 12 years experience in the industry and being able to fix and install the machinery, I was unable to continue in that field. I decided on a big change and opened a fish and chip shop but it wasn’t for me. I have to be creating something. I applied for many jobs, my fingers were automatically sending applications for different sales positions but I faced some of the same challenges as Juan. When I arrived in Australia, I was applying for jobs 24 hours a day. The problem is I have never received an interview due to language barriers. Selling means talking but I never had the chance to prove myself. It’s hard to get local experience without anyone giving you a break. I would be happy to work as a volunteer for a couple of months. I just wanted employers to give me a chance to show them what I could do. But that is business. Life is challenging, it’s up and down. When you are at the bottom, the only way is up and that’s the time you rise and get to the top again. I am now looking at other opportunities in importing luxury items from Europe to Australia. I have no doubt I will find success, it just takes time.
I’m from Santiago, Chile. I moved to Australia in February this year but I was here from 2010 to 2012 to study for my masters degree in civil engineering thanks to a scholarship, having completed my bachelor degree in Chile. I was lucky enough to meet Mark and the team at the Nambour Community Centre and they have been such a great support to me. I have found it very difficult to find work due to cultural barriers and lack of local experience. But engineering is the same the world over. We work with concrete and steel and I have been working hard on my English, which is quite good now. Unfortunately, the reality is if your resume shows you are from another country and English is your second language, it’s tough to even get an interview. I have been looking for work 24 hours a day as well as working with a recruitment agency. I love the Sunshine Coast, it’s absolute paradise and I am still very happy with my decision to move to Australia. Now all I need to do is find work and it will be a dream come true.
I work with the community centre in a co-ordinator role, which allows me the opportunity to meet interesting people such as these guys. The community centre is a crisis type community organisation for homeless people, those in a domestic violence situation etc – we are at the prevention end. We want to build people’s confidence and make them feel good about themselves. We have a number of programs that are funded, including a settlement program and a migrant community development program. The community centre allows an affordable place for people to run their own programs and groups etc. We are just the facilitators. The migrant business acceleration program is part of what we do. We have a funded multicultural worker and settlement worker to help those who are new to the country to find work. We aim to raise the profile of these people who are often very skilful and have lots of qualifications. There is a lot of potential and creativity and ideas these people can offer that businesses can maximise and invest in. Migrants often start up new businesses and create employment in Australia. It’s all about integrating people who are new to Australia and making the transition into employment easier for them. We have a dinner once a month, where people from all corners of the globe cook their traditional dishes and just connect and support each other. It’s a great community.
NOOK AND CRANNY
There’s a buzz in Nambour. And it’s thanks to young entrepreneurs with a vision to see the once tired little town transformed into a hip and happening hub much like Melbourne’s eclectic town of St Kilda. Cameron Scott is one young visionary who is leading the pack. Originally from Melbourne, Cameron, also a qualified accountant, saw the potential in Nambour and predicts there will be huge growth over the next few years. If the figures are anything to go by, he is on the money too, with a 25 per cent population increase in the area in the last five years, due to young families taking advantage of the affordable housing.
The recent opening of Cameron’s trendy Nook and Cranny on Currie Street, and more recently his Downtown burger bar has further added to Nambour’s appeal, drawing the younger crowds to the Hinterland town.
The lads and I recently caught up over a selection of delicious pizzas at the Nook and Cranny and they were as good as I had been told. Selections included Salami, roasted eggplant and jam relish; Pumpkin, feta, nuts, rocket, balsamic with evoo; and marinated chicken, roast capsicum, chilli relish and feta with napoli base. Yum! Don’t miss the dessert pizzas too. After a tip off from my sweet-toothed colleague, I sampled the caramelised pear and roasted almond pizza, which was to die for. The milk chocolate and marshmallow option was just as delicious. The best part is the fantastic value! At just $9.80 per pizza, it certainly makes for an affordable lunch or night out.
Next stop Downtown!
113 currie St, Nambour | Phone: 5476 1393