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Is Australia the land of opportunity?

Updated on August 11, 2018

Australia may still 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?

Work opportunity in Australia

Welcome to our article ((4-G2) 30)) Is Australia the land of opportunity?

Dear readers, when I came to Australia in the early sixties, there were many opportunities to improve oneself, so, we tried to use these opportunities the best way we could. Some smarter people did well and made some money, because they understood what needed to be done quickly, other people like me had only a limited success, but the opportunities were there if you knew what to do, you see things change with time, so, lucky are/were those people that understood quickly how to use those opportunities to make money, or whatever other opportunities they had.

In this article we are asking ourselves, if Australia could still be the land of opportunities, because I believe that when I came to Australia, there were some good opportunities to work hard make money and if you were in the right place to improve ourselves, but today I am not so sure about that, so, let us compare.

So, let us start by telling you the opportunities that we had in the past when I came to Australia, so that, we can compare the opportunities that we had then, to the opportunities that we have today in Australia; we want also to say how those opportunities played a part in the lives of those people that migrated to Australia then.

Anyhow, today things are slightly different, but I suppose that every one of us is different and sees things in a different way, whether we are emigrant or not, we are sure that everyone have a different story to tell and different views of the past, according to our own life experiences and the work that we did; but let me tell you my personal story, so that you could see my own experience the same way as I have seen it and then compare it to today’s opportunities, if you like.

If I were to use my personal experience in Australia as a standard, we must say that, Australia opportunities today are not as good as they used to be then, because things have changed a lot since I came to Australia, especially those opportunities that are based on physical work. Now if we would like to compare the fewer opportunities that are still available today, with what used to be available in the sixties I am going to write the opportunities of the sixties in my life story, just the way I have lived and seen them happen to me personally and to the other people that came to Australia in the early sixties, as well as the Australian people that were born here, and then, my life story opportunities could be compared with what is available today; but first of all let us start with what the majority of people in the world think about Australia today.

Today, everybody in the whole wide world thinks that Australia is still the land of opportunities, and that is the reason why people are still trying hard to migrate to Australia; but, are all those opportunities still there, one may ask? Or is it just a myth now and the opportunities that existed in the past do not exist any longer, or they are a lot less than they used to be especially for those unskilled people that are coming to Australia these days.

Having been a migrant myself a long time ago in the early sixties, and being in a way 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, specially 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 one way or another, they even risk their lives during their journey, boarding unseaworthy boats that might break up and disintegrate in the ocean, and most of those people could drown, when there is no help.

Therefore, when I hear or see people migrating today like desperados that want to reach Australia at all cost, I always go back mentally to the times when I legally migrated myself and think what I could and would have done if there had been no one to help me when I arrived in Australia; here I should say that just thinking about it makes me shudder, so, to see these people these days trying to come by boat illegally and knowing that they may not be welcome here make me wonder how desperate they are to try to migrate at all cost; they must be really desperate to try to migrate this way.

But then, there is also this other reason, because of the television and the computer people compare their own standard of living in their countries where they are born, with what they see on TV or public programs on the computer, like Face-book and others programs, and they compare what they see with the way they live in their own country, so, they believe that they would be better off if they can come to Australia, because everybody seems to think that Australia is the land of opportunities.

Looking at what is happening these days we know that the world has got a real problem with people migrating to other countries like Australia, as we all know, here in Australia we are very upset about those people coming in by boats, and we would like to stop them and even send them back where they came from. Now, here 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 might have a 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 anyhow here we are not going to talk that much about illegal migrants, because we want to talk about if Australia is still the land of opportunities.


But, is Australia still the land of opportunity?

In this case we have to ask; is Australia still the land of opportunities today?

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

Anyhow, let us try to see what has changed since I came to Australia in the sixties. There are many things that have changed since then, because of the progress humanity has made and continues to make even today; therefore, working opportunities have also changed a lot, so, today it is a lot harder to find a manual job; this is due to the fact that today we do not need as many hands to do a job as we used to in the past, because a lot of the hard labour is being done from machines, therefore, people that have no skills and rely only on their physical strength are not in high demand, for this reason there are a lot less jobs available for these people, but if people have a trade or have studied there could be 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 could tell you what sort of opportunities existed then, and after that we might be able to compare with what opportunities are available today.

In order to understand what we are going to say next, it is important also to know that economies and for that matter opportunities for jobs have high and lows of their own, therefore this effects everybody around that are looking for work.

Now if you do not mind let me tell you my own experience when I came to Australia, because this is probably the only way that we might be able to compare the work opportunity situation, while at the same time, I would be telling you my life story that could be used to compare with today ways of living.

Today it might sound 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 are rare and did 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 to you hereunder part of my own life story, and therefore, what I found easy or hard to cope with when I came here, and then how I was able to cope with the hardship of those times and the way that those things became solved, as this is the only way that I know how to compare and measure, whether Australia is still the land of opportunities, so, let us see what sorts of 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 sort of opportunities were available in Australia

What sort of 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 readily available, so, I had to be patient until a job would be 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 some workers to do some work in our family farm, we would aspect 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 all know English is a very 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 somehow come close to the sound that 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, as you can see 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, now let us tell you that although I had very little English somehow everything turned out all right in the end, perhaps this is another reason why people think that Australia is still the land of opportunities, we think it is based on the assumption that because people before us have been able to succeed, we will be able to succeed as well. But sometimes it does not work that way.

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 whole 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 would be able to 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 would 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 somehow, 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. Which after a while it did, and I will be telling about that soon.

Now, before I close this page and start another one, I really want to say that Australia is/was a great country to be in, just because people are given their opportunities as they deserve, if you are willing to work hard for what they deserve.

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 continue this article and 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
Mixer used to mix concrete to lay foundations or concrete paths and also to mix mortar to lay bricks or blocks. This sort of mixer was used a lot more in those days, so there was a lot more work on the building sites. we have used it many times.
Mixer used to mix concrete to lay foundations or concrete paths and also to mix mortar to lay bricks or blocks. This sort of mixer was used a lot more in those days, so there was a lot more work on the building sites. we have used it many times.

Australia building industry

Working in the Australian building industry

As I have said above my first job in Australia was in the building industry, because I ended up to work 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 much English and at the same time I had no much 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 could be 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 to work 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 about 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, as long as the workers are not pushed beyond their physical capacity, because when they are asked to do more than what is possible for them to do, a lot of troubles and injustice are happening, so, everything needs to be fine-tuned, so to speak. But let us compare those times with our present times.


Compare the old ways with the new

Here we would like to compare the opportunities, that we had when we came in Australia in the sixties as selected legal migrant, to the opportunities of today with all these illegal migrants that arrive uninvited by boat and other illegal ways, so, let compare the old ways of migrating with the new ways.

Now, let us compare the way that I and most other emigrants around the sixties, had to do to come to Australia, with what is happening today illegal emigration, so that we might be able to spot some of the reasons why things don’t seem to work as good as they used to work then.

You see, when I and the other emigrants that came to Australia 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 here.

This screening was somehow strict, as they did not want anybody that could become sick easily, so, we had to go through a medical check, and there was another even 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 somehow involved with the communist party, just by saying that he would vote for the communist party he would not be allowed to come to Australia.

Now, I hope that I have explained enough how strict they were then, before they gave you a visa to come to work in Australia. Anyhow, I could say that this screening would be emigrant was a good thing after all, because after that it was a lot easier when you were in Australia, since they knew just about anything about you that they needed to know, so, the authorities here were more relaxed. As I have already said above, when I went to the unemployment office even though I did not speak much English they did everything possible to find us 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 could say that Just 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 just unwilling to work hard.

Today Australia does not seem to be as good as it was when I came to Australia, because there are some 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 could see Australia the way that I saw it when I came here, would fall in love with the Australian ways of living. Now we could say that today it is not as good as it used to be; but we should say that we are still very well off compared to other countries. So, we would like to conclude this article by saying that Australia could 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, just because they would like to have an easy life for themselves.

Now, because at the beginning of this article I wanted to talk about, if Australia is still the land of opportunities, I must answer no it isn’t. But it is not that simple, because things have changed a lot; so, it is not easy to compare, but we want to compare what we know. You see, today is not that simple to do that, because a lot of things are different, we can start by saying that there is less work for unskilled people, since the hard work today is done from purpose made machines, you can have a better chance if you have studied, or you have skills. Then there is this difference that exists between screened legal emigrant, and those emigrants that come illegally and the authorities don’t know anything about them; so, they are suspicious about them, because you can never know. So, a comparison between these two sort of emigrant is not possible. Therefore, measuring the opportunities that exist is not possible either; but we have to assume that some opportunities still exist, but they are a lot less than they used to be.

Anyhow this article is becoming too long, so, see you next time with another article called; Australian building industry, where we will be continuing telling 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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