How to make a success of your life in Australia
Making a life-changing decision to move from an African country to settle permanently in a far-off place like Australia is one of the most daunting steps any one can take.
Yes, it is daunting but there is no shortage of people who will kill to have the opportunity to live in Australia.
This country has just gone through a census exercise. The final statistics from the exercise will not be known for at least one year. What we know from previous data is that there are at least 500,000 people whose ancestry is African. In other words, these people either migrated to Australia or their parents or grandparents did.
Once we get here, the big task ahead of us is to make a great success of the decision to move from Africa to Australia.
Over the years, I have spoken to and interviewed dozens of Africans who have settled in Australia and have achieved various levels of success in their fields of endeavour.
Let us briefly go through some of the common themes that keep cropping up in these conversations. Hopefully they will help the younger ones in our community make proper decisions to guide them on their paths to a successful life in Australia.
A recent (August 2016) major survey of Australian-born and immigrant Australians found that despite widely shared values, many people struggle to feel accepted within mainstream society. The survey, called Australians Today, is the largest parallel survey ever undertaken of those born in Australia and immigrants.
The study was a collaboration between the Scanlon Foundation (which aims to foster social cohesion within Australia), the Australian Multicultural Foundation and Melbourne’s Monash University.
Many African-Australians who feel excluded from mainstream society put the blame on various forms of discrimination, joblessness, lack of family support networks and loneliness.
Yes, these are genuine issues but we shouldn’t let these problems and obstacles stand in the way if we really want to move forward and achieve substantial progress in life.
Education: Africans are among the most highly educated and professionally qualified migrants when they arrive in Australia. Many of us believe that our paper certificates are enough to land us a great job as soon as we arrive here.
We quickly realise however that we must “brush up” on our studies and qualifications with certificates and practical experience in Australia before employers will look at hiring us. This should take a few months or weeks. Just undertake a short refresher course on your area of expertise, and armed with a document from a local institution or a reference from a “work experience or intern” employer, you’re on the way to achieving one of your goals.
Employment: Once migrants set foot on Australian soil, the first thing many of us think about is a job. We somehow believe that finding a job that give us an income to live on is a major hurdle cleared. Sure, that is right.
What a job equips us to do is to live more comfortably, compared to our standard of living in the countries we have left behind. We quickly begin to think of acquiring some of life’s flashy belongings – a car, a more fashionable wardrobe, the latest electrical gadgets, etc.
While these items may enhance our self-worth, economists believe most of them are vanities that can be pushed aside for some time while we find our feet in the new country.
Investment: The advice is that it is best to save money to fall on in hard times. If you’re lucky to have a partner with you in your first few years, it shouldn’t be too difficult to save quite a substantial amount of money in the first few years.
We are all familiar with the booming property market in every Australian state. The best asset to put your money to is to invest in either real estate or the sharemarket. Just try this and see how your wealth will grow in leaps and bounds within a ten-year period. With this growth, you can then take part of the equity you’ve built up in your house or your sharemarket investment to purchase the fancy car you’ve been dreaming of owning.
It is surprising to learn that very, very few members of the African community are in small business. Just to emphasise the importance of owning a business, it is a known fact that it is the surest way of escaping poverty and into financial freedom. How many wealthy people employed by others do you know? Almost all wealthy people own businesses. The very few exceptions put their large salaries into some form of investment to yield them huge profits.
The one thing Africans in Australia can do to boost entrepreneurship in the community is to patronise and support the businesses of members who decide to go into small business. If a community member owns a thriving business, there is the likelihood that they will employ other members of the community.
The business can be in several areas. One business area that has been almost ignored or overlooked is importing products and/or services from our home countries for sale in Australia. You have to carefully study the market here and work out if any items produced in South Africa, Nigeria or Sierra Leone will find a profitable market in Australia. If you can find any such product or service, you’re in the money. Go for it.
There are many people who look at exporting items from Australia to various African nations. I believe it’s the wrong way to go. The money is in Australia, not in Africa. Very few Africans can afford to buy items imported from expensive places like Australia. However, if you’re able to import items from any African country to Australia, chances are that you can reap respectable profits.
Operating a small business is not easy. There are many regulations to familiarise yourself with, and pitfalls are many. Fortunately, there are several courses to enroll in, some of them free, that can give you a solid grounding in small business operation. Visit your local Fair Trading Office or TAFE College if you need more information.
Take some of the steps listed above and I believe you are on the right path to achieving financial independence. Just a word of warning though. Nothing in this short article should be taken as financial advice. Please seek professional advice from qualified financial advisers before you venture into any form of investment.
I’ll be happy to read your comments on this piece. Thanks for reading.
Australia has been a magnet for people from all corners of the globe since January 1788 when European settlers dropped anchor at present day Sydney. Over the past 50 years or so, migrants from the African continent have been settling in Australia. Though historical records indicate that Black Africans were on the First Fleet of settlers sent to the new colony, the official White Australia policy that was enforced for decades meant very few Africans managed to call Australia home. That policy has long been abandoned, and estimates put the number of Australians of African descent at about 500,000. Australia is a land of opportunity. However it is not always easy for new migrants to find these opportunities. Many migrants troop to Australia to find a far better standard of living. This can only be realised when the migrant knows what to do to achieve this goal. This work is a very short, straight-to-the-point report on some of the steps that should be considered if the African migrant is to make an economic headway in their new country.