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Is Australia the land of opportunity?

Updated on March 23, 2020

Australia can be the lucky country for the right people

A lot of people believe that Australia is still the lucky country and the land of opportunities, but how does it compare with the old Australian way of life of the sixties and there about?
A lot of people believe that Australia is still the lucky country and the land of opportunities, but how does it compare with the old Australian way of life of the sixties and there about? | Source

Work opportunity in Australia

Welcome to our article (32) Is Australia the land of opportunity?

Dear readers, when I came to Australia in the early sixties, there were good opportunities to work and improve our standard of living; but today I am not sure if those opportunities still exist. So, in this article we are going to compare, if there are opportunities.

So, let us start by telling you the opportunities that we had when I came to Australia, to the opportunities that we have today in Australia, and how those opportunities played a part in the lives of those people that migrated to Australia.

Anyhow, I feel that today is different, but I suppose that every one of us feels different, you see, whether we are emigrant, or we have been born here we have our own story to tell, and we are sure that everyone has a different story and views of the past, according to our life experiences and the work that we did; but let me tell you my personal story, so that you can see my own experience the same way as I have seen it, then compare it to today’s opportunities, if you like.

If I were to use only my personal experience in Australia as a standard, we must say that Australia opportunities today are not as good as they used to be, because things have changed since I came to Australia. Now if we want to compare the fewer opportunities that are available today, with what used to be available in the sixties, you can use my life story, because I am going to write my life story, just the way I have seen things happen to me and to other people that came to Australia in the early sixties, including the Australian people that were born here; so, my life story opportunities can be compared with what is available today.

Anyhow, everybody in the wide world thinks that Australia is still the land of opportunities, and that is the reason why people are trying to migrate to Australia; but, are those opportunities still there, one may ask? Or is it a myth now, and the opportunities that existed in the past, are a lot less than they used to be, especially for those unskilled people that are coming to Australia.

Having been a migrant myself a long time ago in the early sixties, and being lucky to find some relative that helped me to settle in Australia, I know that migrating to another country is not an easy thing to do, especially if there is no one waiting for you and help you when you arrive, and it is even harder if you don’t speak the language of the country you are migrating to, but today there is a great movement of people throughout the world that migrate from one country to another, and a lot of people want to come to Australia, they even risk their lives during their journey, boarding unseaworthy boats that can break up and disintegrate in the ocean, and they can drown, because there is no help.

Therefore, when I see people migrating today like desperados that want to reach Australia at all cost, I go back mentally to the times when I legally migrated, and think what I could have done if there had been no one to help me when I arrived in Australia. Just to think about it makes me shudder, so, to see these people that come illegally by boat, knowing that they may not be welcome here make me wonder how desperate they are, to try to migrate at all cost.

So, I wonder if there are other reasons as well, because they believe that they will be better off, if they can come to Australia, because everybody thinks that Australia is the land of opportunities.

Looking at what is happening today, we know that the entire world has problems with people migrating to other countries like Australia. Here in Australia we are upset to see people coming in by boats, and we want to stop them, or send them back where they came from. Now, I need to say that in Europe is even worse with people coming in from North Africa every day, they are so many that is hard to count them, and we guess and say that the same amount of people that migrate illegally to Australia in a year may migrate to Europe in a week or even less than that.


But, is Australia still the land of opportunity?

Anyhow, let us talk if Australia is still the land of opportunities.

If I use my personal experience as a standard, then I can say that today in Australia work opportunities are not as good as they used to be. But then not everything is as it seems to me, because my judgment is that of a single person and therefore, I might be wrong.

So, let us try to see what has changed since I came to Australia. There are many things that have changed since then, because of the progress humanity has made and continues to make; therefore, working opportunities have changed, so, today it is a lot harder to find a manual job; this is due to the fact that we do not need as many hands to do a job as we used to in the past, because the hard labour is being done from machines, therefore, people that have no skills and rely on their physical strength to work are not required. For this reason, there are less jobs available, but if people have a trade or have studied there are working opportunities for them.

Now that we have explained how we see today working opportunities, allow me to go back to the days when I came to Australia, so that I can tell you what opportunities existed then. In order to understand what we are saying next; it is important to know that opportunities for jobs have high and lows of their own, therefore, this affects everybody around that are looking for work.

Now let me tell you my experience when I came to Australia, because this is the way that we can compare the work opportunity situation.

Today this sounds an impossible achievement, but there have been times in Australia when everybody had a job, so, there was no unemployment at all, from stories that I have been told from people that were already here when I came, there have been times that the employers had not enough employees and they would go down to the wharfs when the ships arrived and select a few people that seemed good enough for them to do their jobs, therefore, in those days there were no unemployed people, but unfortunately those times do not last long, as I said working opportunities go up and down.

Now to compare those times with today’s’ opportunities, we are going to describe part of my own life story, therefore, what I found easy or hard to cope with when I came here, and how I was able to cope with the hardship of those times, until those things became solved, this is the way that I know how to compare and see, whether Australia is still the land of opportunities, so, let us see what opportunities were available then.


Centrelink Australian government

Today Centrelink is the main government office that helps unemployed people, and other people in need, like pensioners. It works like the old government office, The office would find you a job. In those times most employers used it to find workers.
Today Centrelink is the main government office that helps unemployed people, and other people in need, like pensioners. It works like the old government office, The office would find you a job. In those times most employers used it to find workers.

What opportunities were available in Australia

What opportunities were available in Australia in the sixties?

When I arrived in Australia in March 1961 my relative and friends were all working, at the same time they were telling me that there were not many job vacancies available, so, I had to be patient until a job was available. But what sort of work I could do they were not sure just we had to wait and see, what I knew about working for other people was that if a job was offered to me I had to work hard, since in my country when we hired workers to work in our family farm, we expected them to work hard so that they would earn their pay, therefore, I was in my right frame of mind to go out and work hard, whatever job was offered would do me just fine. I have said this, because it is necessary to understand that whoever attempts to migrate to another country, he/she must be ready to work hard if they want to succeed, and it all boils down to this that you need to do a fair work day for fair daily pay.

Beside my willingness to work I was also young and fit enough to do any manual job that I was offered, the only problem was that I didn't speak English, I had learned perhaps a few words on the way to Australia while we were sailing, as there was an English teacher on the ship for that purpose. But as we know English is a hard language to learn, especially if one comes from a country that their language is phonetic and once you know some rules, one can read from a book and come close to the sound how those written words are pronounced, but English is not written phonetically, so, to learn English one must be exposed to the English speaking people and slowly learn from them, so, I and other emigrant like me had a lot to learn, before we could speak English well enough to look after ourselves, and to fit in the Australian speaking community.

Anyhow, let us tell you that although I had very little English, things turned out all right in the end, perhaps this is another reason why people think that Australia is still the land of opportunities.

For me when I came to Australia I was still thinking the Italian ways, so, I was thinking that I was on my own and I had to find my own way around, but here I had a pleasant surprise when for the first time some relative took me to see the unemployment office.

In Italy when you go to an Italian office if you want something done quickly you need to know somebody in there, otherwise before your turn comes the office hours are over and you have to come back the day after, so, I was wondering how could we succeed in these Australian offices, since I didn’t speak English and my friend was just a little bit better than me.

Anyhow we waited our turn and soon we were being interviewed from this middle aged man that seemed to have so much patience and understanding of the situation, he slowly worked out what we wanted by asking and repeating what we did not understand, and he noted everything down as he asked me many things to see what sort of job I could do, I remember even now that one of his questions was if I were afraid of heights and I said no, as I was going up some tall trees to prune them, he also asked if I knew anything about building or building maintenance, here again I said yes as we sometimes repair some farm building. I believe that these two things gave me the first job in the building industry, as I was called one day to go to work for the first time in Australia. My first job was that of a bricklayer labour, and we were working on a chimney stack in the brickworks where bricks are made, which I managed to hold for a couple of weeks, until a bigger gang came and I became a bit confused in the middle of all those people, and I lost my first job for lack of knowledge or lack of understanding English. But anyhow I had my first work experience and I was sure that soon there was going to be another one.

Anyhow, I need to say that Australia is a great country to be in, because people are given their opportunities as they deserve, if you are willing to work hard for it.

And in the unemployment offices the officers are just great people to deal with, or at least they were when I came to Australia in the sixties. Now, I am going to talk about how I ended up working in the Australian building industry for good.


House brick base in progress

Partly completed brick-base for a timber or brick veneer house, for those that are not familiar with this term, brick veneer means that the outside of the house is made of bricks. This was the sort of work easily available when I came to Auststralia.
Partly completed brick-base for a timber or brick veneer house, for those that are not familiar with this term, brick veneer means that the outside of the house is made of bricks. This was the sort of work easily available when I came to Auststralia. | Source

Australia building industry

As I have said, my first job in Australia was in the building industry, because I ended up working as a bricklayer’s labour, but I lost that job for a couple of reasons. I believe that I lost the first job, because I didn’t know English and at the same time, I had no experience in the sort of work we were doing, and for that reason I could not guess what they wanted me to do next. After that I had another job which ended very much the same way; but then one day suddenly a small Italian builder needed a labour and he knew that I was available, so he came to fetch me and asked if I would be interested to work for him, and this is how I ended up working in the building industry, I worked for this builder for about two years, but then he went on holiday to Italy for a long time, therefore, he temporary closed down the business, but by then the Italian building community new about me, so, in a few days I had another job to go to, always in the building industry with another builder or contractors working as a bricklayer labour.

You see in those times there was a lot more work for people wanting to work, but at the same time we knew that we had to work hard because there was a lot of competition going on even in those days, so, what could we say if we work hard for it, we would always find somebody that would give us work, because we earned our wage plus a bit more for the employer. This is how I understood the ways of earning your living in this capitalist society, which is based on competition and you are paid with what you deliver. Now, we have to say that this capitalist way is very good, if the workers are not pushed beyond their physical capacity. But let us compare those times with our present times.


Compare the old ways with the new

Here we want to compare the opportunities that we had, when we came in Australia in the sixties as emigrant, to the opportunities of the illegal migrants that arrive by boat uninvited.

So, we need to compare what we had to do to come to Australia in the sixties, with what is happening today with illegal emigration, to spot the reasons why things don’t work as good as they used to work, for the emigrants.

You see, when I and the other emigrants wanted to come to Australia during the sixties, we had to be screened before we could have a visa that would allow us to come to Australia and work.

This screening was strict, as they did not want anybody that could become sick, so, we had to go through a medical check, and there was another stricter check about being legally of good character, even if you had ever had trouble with the police, in fact, they were so strict about this that if one had been involved with the communist party, by saying that you would vote for the communist party, you would not be allowed to come to Australia.

I hope that I have explained how strict they were then, before they gave you a visa to come to work in Australia. Anyhow, I can say that this screening the emigrants was a good thing after all, because after that it was a lot easier when you were in Australia, since they knew everything that they needed to know, so, the authorities were more relaxed. As I have said, when I went to the unemployment office even though I did not speak much English they did everything possible to find me a job, and if they could not find us a job soon enough, they would pay us the unemployment benefit.

Anyhow, from my own experience, I can say that anyone that has come to Australia and has seen Australia the same way that I have seen it, they know that Australia is a great country to live in; and if there is somebody that does not like Australia, it must be because they have their own personal problems and they are home sick, or they are unwilling to work hard.

Today Australia does not seem to be as good as it was when I came to Australia, because there are more unemployed people, and it is hard for people to find permanent work. But in my eyes, it is still okay, you need to be more patient until you find a job.

But my impression about Australia is this; anyone that sees Australia the way that I saw it when I came here, would fall in love with the Australian ways of living. Now we can say that today it is not as good as it used to be, but we are still good compared to other countries. So, we want to conclude this article by saying that Australia can be still the land of opportunities, if the people that come here come with the intention of working hard, as we have been working in the past, they should not come with the intention of ripping us off, because they want to have an easy life for themselves.

Now, because today a lot of things are different, most of all the difference that exists between screened legal emigrant, and those emigrants that come illegally and the authorities don’t know anything about them. So, a comparison between these emigrants is not possible. Therefore, measuring the opportunities that exist is not possible either.

Anyhow this article is becoming too long, so, see you next time with another article called; Australian building industry, where we will be continuing to tell you my life story and what I have done in Australia to earn a living. See you there.


© 2012 F-Menchise


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