This paper will take a key interest in the migration story of my parents Barbara Heinemann and Kirby Clark and their story in relation to identify the factors that shaped the migration and resettlement of migrants in the 1980’s and the Australian government’s policies and desires. How the processes of alienation and assimilation affected migrants who came from a western culture and how acceptance and ‘mateship’ was difficult to find in Australians. I will do this while comparing the similarities that other migrants in Australia and around the globe faced and different migration trends in the 1980’s. The paper will also discuss migration and what set voluntary migrants apart from other people and particularly the predisposition for migrant children to become migrants themselves.
During the early 1980’s like much of the world Canada was experiencing a recession. Many people were in fear of losing their jobs in the current environment. “I was very nervous about cut backs at PWC (PricewaterhouseCoopers). From what I knew at the time, Australia wasn’t affected nearly as much as Canada was so I decided I’d try my luck in Australia on a 2 year working/holiday. ” (). Many such companies were being encouraged by the Australian government to bring immigrants with “particular Professional skills, business experience” (). Many of the people that decided to take up the opportunity provided by organisations like PricewaterhouseCoopers never intended on staying in Australia. “ When I first arrived I thought I’d always be going home, like most of the people I worked with were expats they all thought they were going to go home after their visa was up”(). By the mid 1980’s Canada had pulled out of the worst of the recession.
“ By the time I left Canada the recessions was pretty much over. I was in a rut, I wanted something new and a 2 year working/holiday in Australia was my way out, but when I arrived I saw that the recession wasn’t over in Australia” (). Australia’s ‘clever country’ policies made it easy for skilled migrants to obtain permanent residence. “Almost all of the people we worked with at PwC, who where expats decided to stay, we were practically handed permanent residency” ().In the 1980’s the government’s desire to develop the financial sectors and technological sectors saw an increase in demand for workers and an increase in income to those who worked in them. “migration policies refocused on highly skilled workers, whether permanent or temporary” (). Skilled workers were in high demand all over the world and Australia being so isolated could only have decreased the desire for people to move there but the Australian government may have had one of the best immigrant ‘recruitment’ policies due to the huge percentage of skilled workers that it took in comparison to some other countries.
Australia became home to any new migrant families in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, many of the temporary workers applied and received permanent residency. “Almost all of the expats at PwC stayed in Australia, and most of them married each other or an Australian.” (). Australia has become one of the world’s most diverse countries if not number one or two. 24 percent of Australia’s population was born overseas and another 26 percent have one or bother parents born overseas. This number will only increase with children from the migrants that arrived in the 1980’s and 1990’s becoming old enough to be part of the statistics. At most schools it seems to be a higher percentage than 26 that have parents from overseas and around the same as 24 that were born overseas.
In the 1980’s migrants decided to stay in Australia and to make it their home as no one was from the same place their lives together were in Australia “ Me being Canadian and my wife being English we didn’t have a shared home other than Australia. We both love it here why would we think of moving to either of the others?” (nkob). “ I’m from Toronto in Canada and Barbara is from Vancouver, we didn’t have a shared history in Canada, we came to Australia at different times but we’d made ourselves a home here, we’d gotten married in 1988, bought a house in 1989 and had a son in 1991” (). After about 5-10 years many migrants who arrived in the 1980’s realised that they probably wouldn’t be going back home to live.
For many it would have been an hard concept to deal with. “I know that after about 3 years I thought I probably wouldn’t be going back to Canada but it didn’t really hit me till I was here for the 7th year” (). “I always thought I’d be going home until my son was about 5, I decided that this is our home now. I’ll probably go home more when my parents get older and are unable to take care of themselves” (). Many of the skilled temporary workers thought they’d be going back to their homeland but most didn’t, about 75 percent of the staff at PricewaterhouseCoopers that came from overseas went home after their 2 years. “I only remember about four people going back to their home countries.” ()
All migrants face some Alienation when they arrive in a new country. Even people who come from ‘western’ countries feel some sort of alienation. It may not have been culturally that they had problems. Socially the migrants that were seen as temporary were not accepted their Australian co-workers didn’t see the point of getting to know them if they were here temporarily. “The expats stayed together most of the time. The Australians weren’t rude but they just didn’t care it took years to get to know an Australian from work, I was only temporary in their eyes. The Australians were also into buying a house and setting up their families. Most of the expats were here to party, it was called a working/holiday for a reason, we’d go out together most nights of the week” (). The new migrants didn’t know where to go or what to do in Australia. “I’m sure I would of figured life out by myself but all newcomers were taken under an others wing shown where to go and which places were the cheapest and the best” (). Some of the migrants are still feel alienated today.
They’re not from a different ethnic background from many Australians. The difference is there isn’t a Canadian or an Irish or an English community. “In some ways it may have been easier to come here from a country where many of people have come earlier. I have been living in Australia for 23 years and I still get asked how long I’m visiting for, or where in the states I’m from” (). They may not be discriminated against but as soon as they open their mouths many of the migrants get labelled as temporary. Assimilation was also something that these migrants had to overcome, most Australians at the time that were the same age as most skilled migrants were starting to settle down, buy houses and starting families. “we didn’t really have much contact with Australians our age they were either younger or older at either ends of their professional carriers.” ().
Many kept part of the culture from their homeland with them or their previous routine. “In Canada I played Ice hockey at a high level and for the first 6 or 7 years I was in Australia I continued to play, becoming all Australian a few times. I remember Paul played rugby at a high level in Ireland and continued that here as well.” Being considered Australian is a hard thing for a lot of migrants to deal with psychologically “I don’t have a home country, I’m more of a global citizen, I’m a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident in Australia but I wouldn’t call either my home. I’m a Canadian in Australia and an Australian in Canada.” ()Assimilation in Australia is hard to define with there being so much diversity it maybe not be a big issue with people having to assimilate with Australian culture if they already come from a ‘western’ cultured country.
During the 1980’s migrants were migrating in the search for jobs and to escape from prosecution. Canada, America and Australia had a huge influx of Asian people predominantly from Hong Kong and Taiwan ,“about 50 percent of peopled the immigrated to Australia in the 1980’s were from Asia”(). In the 1980’s and 1990’s a large number of immigrants that arrived in Australia came from Asian, Middle Eastern countries and India. “When I first arrived I didn’t see that many migrants that were from Asia, particularly Indian people in comparison to the number in Canada but over the next 6 or so years I saw a huge increase of Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern people around the city” ().
Australia was being ‘Asianised’ not as in a invasion but that instead of most migrants being from Europe many more where coming from Asia and the government was being more accepting to non Anglophone people. “When I first arrived Australia wasn’t a multicultural country in comparison to what id experienced in Canada, but as time went on it became very diverse very quickly. It became the Australia they had been promoting.” In the financial sector most of the immigrants were from Europe or North America but in the Information technology sectors the Asian and Indian people were the majority. “Most of the people that came to PwC where I was working were from the UK/Ireland, Germany or North America but in the Tech department I don’t think there was a person that wasn’t Chinese or Indian” ().
The reason why countries were looking for skilled migrants, migrants with capital and entrepreneurial migrants was that these migrants usually such migrants would find a niche for themselves, perhaps as initiators of the new industries (). Migrants are people willing to change their lives in an instant. Someone who’s willing to leave their homeland and go out into the world, move half way around the world and try their hand at something is someone to be admired. Migrant families also tend to not stay in one spot for long or usually someone in the family makes a similar decision as one of
their forefathers to try something else. “migrants are different from everyone else I think, they’re willing to take a chance, to risk everything, they are looking for an adventure.
Although my grandparents moved to Canada from England, I never knew them but from a young age I had a desire to see the world, may have been from the stories from Bob our next door neighbour, none of my brothers or sisters moved away from home.” () Is being a migrant hereditary? It seems that people whose parents have migrated or family members have migrated before are predisposed to do so themselves. “ Do I think it’s genetically inherited no I think it’s a frame of mind and previous experiences. My parents moved from Germany to Canada after World War II, the fact that they were migrants didn’t persuade me to go in anyway but the face that I’d travelled a lot when I was younger did have an effect on me I always entertained the thought that I might not be a Canadian forever.” ()
It may also be the fact that people that are 1st generation citizens of their country don’t actually identify themselves with that country. “I was born in Canada but because both my parents are German, I considered myself more German then Canadian which makes it much more confusing for me now living in Australia whether I am Australian, Canadian or German.” () “Both my parents are Canadian when I talk about home I talk about Canada despite the fact that I never lived there and I was born in Australia, at school I was always considered Canadian. I don’t think I’ll be in Australia much longer, there’s so much more out there to experience!”()
This essay has explored what factors shaped the migration and resettlement of my family and skilled migrants in the 1980’s. It also discussed the processes of alienation and assimilation that skilled migrants faced in the 1980’s placing particular emphasis on temporary workers. Whilst comparing both of these with other migrants in Australia and worldwide and other migration trends. Finally I will explore how migrants differ and what influences people to migrate and the effect it has on the next generation and their beliefs and the disposition they have into becoming migrants themselves.
Courtney from Study Moose
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