The first six months here just feel like a breeze. Everything is new. Everything is weird. Everything is exciting. Even the simplest act like driving requires adjustment. Language, yes English is our second language but Australian slang is something else altogether. The kids’ school was totally new. New friends are exciting, multi-coloured and multi-cultured. New classrooms are so small that can only occupy maximum to 25 students and that is the only class for every level of age. Each class is handled by a single teacher who is teaching students all the subjects with the exception of Music and Physical Education. Students and teachers interact freely with each other. Class teacher understand our kids’ strengths and weaknesses by being with them all day long and throughout all subjects. So there is no labelling on kids. The teachers will just evaluate the students on his/her merit and not with some presumption. In Malaysia, with one teacher teaching one subject, students are judged on how good they are based on that subject. For example, my eldest Aimi is very good in Science subjects and she excels in it. However she dislikes numbers hence are not doing well in Mathematics and not paying attention in class during this subject. In Malaysia, she will be labelled as problem maker by her Math teacher. However, her class teacher was simply telling us that she is not interested in Math and we need to encourage her more to love this subject. In the extreme case scenario, the teacher will be telling the parents that their offspring should just concentrate on vocational/technical, music or sports because are not just academically-inclined. In Malaysia, everyone is judged on their exam results and parents define success as having straights As in their examinations. We are glad that we have the opportunity to remove our kids from that pressure cooker environment.
Another aspect that I need to touch when it comes to education system here is, behavioral development is being placed before academic development. Kids in Kindy (5 years) and Pre-Primary (6 years) are not expected to read and write. However, they are expected to build positive characters such as teamwork, courteous, polite, trustworthy and honest. Kids were taught to learn basic etiquette such as such as saying “good morning”, “thank you”, “please”, “welcome”, “how are you” at every available opportunity. They were taught not be afraid to ask question if they do not understand certain things. They were asked to pack away their toys after the play session finished. Talking about play, going to school here is equivalent to going to playground. Kids really enjoy going to school here. No pressure of trying to keep up with the mini Joneses. Everybody is doing thing at his/her own pace. No grade is given. No streaming of classes between good students and “bad” students. Teachers treat children with respect and not even once we heard any screaming or shouting coming from the classrooms. All in all, for our kids, moving to Australia is a breeze.
However, I can’t say the same thing for us, adults.
First, we struggle with employment or rather unemployment. We chose Perth for a very simple reason, mining boom. As a real estate agent, you want to be in the hot market and nothing is hotter than Perth in 2012 when we were doing our pre-migration research. Based on our simple research, all else is pointing towards Melbourne except for property market. However between 2012 when we did our research and 2015 when we actually settled down here, the situation couldn’t be any contrasting than Rosmah’s big hair and Wan Azizah’s flat tudung. The mining boom ends and Perth’s property market cools off substantially. For the first three months I decided to work for a residential property builder in Perth. The main reason is for me to understand the property market and the costs associated with building a residential property in Perth. If they were favorable, I would like to try my hand in a small scale property development. To my surprise and amazement, on average the builders in Perth are only making between 2-5% net profits. On the other hand, no developer in Malaysia will undertake any project for less than 20% profit. So, development is too risky for me. Next, I move to what I know best, selling properties. I managed to close deals here and there but the volume of closing is below my average. Maybe it is time to explore something new.
On the other hand, my wife couldn’t secure any job after two years here. Hundreds of resume were sent yet she didn’t even receive any reply for interview much less any job offer. We were perplexed with the lack of job opportunities here. However, after speaking to few newcomers here, our situation is far from unique. Most of the new migrants will be able to find any job within the first two years of moving here. Most end up taking menial odd jobs as cleaners, delivery person, waitress or general helper just to get by. The government essentially is not doing anything to address this issue. And it is puzzling to say the least when right wing politicians in their unabashed rhetoric are blaming migrants for taking away locals’ jobs. I mean, c’mon you can keep your low skilled job, we are not interested! With the general slowdown of economy due to the end of mining boom, the situation can only get worse in 2017. We believe new migrants need to have substantial saving to survive here and ultimately we have to create our own economy and jobs since no one is going to help you irregardless of your qualification and command of English which are better than some locals. The fact of the matter is, Perth is a very closed small economy based on “who-you-know” and “old-boy-club” for any job opportunity. If you feel nepotism and cronyism is bad in Malaysia, wait till you start looking for job in Perth. And the only reason I secure my job is because I work on commission only job. If not, I’ll end up in the same boat as my wife.
steadyaku47 comment : To be continued.