Moving to a new country offers many opportunities for a fresh start, but like any new adventure, it can take some time to find your feet. WA Cultural Diversity Training Award winners Maureen Guiloy and Jasmin Porter share their experiences of what it was like coming to Australia and how their training pathways opened doors to new career options.
Maureen migrated from the Philippines to Australia with her family in 2012 and moved to the Wheatbelt town of Northam.
“I studied a Foreign Service Major in Diplomacy in the Philippines but that was not very useful to me when I moved here and I started looking for a job.”
When Maureen first moved to Australia the hardest obstacle to overcome was not speaking the language. “The language barrier is indeed the hardest thing to make adjustments to, mainly because it is the main tool for you to get acquaintances and associate yourself with people. I did not find cultural differences difficult to adjust to because Australia recognises cultural diversity and provides many opportunities regardless of cultural background,” she said.
Maureen worked three part time jobs at a local fast food restaurant, as a cleaner at a cafe and at the Yongah Hills Immigration and Detention Centre and it was a colleague that suggested she study a Certificate II in Leadership Development to gain confidence and skills in an Australian workplace. Despite the language barrier, Maureen enrolled at her local TAFE.
“Getting a TAFE course and finishing it came in handy and every door of opportunity opened up for me,” Maureen said. “Being in training, you get to choose your own direction, build your own pathway, enhance the skills that you currently have and develop a new skill as you move forward.”
Maureen now works as an Administrative Assistant at Central Regional TAFE in Northam which is providing her with more opportunities to grow and learn.
An active member of her community, Maureen founded the FilipinOz group in Northam to assist other culturally diverse people throughout the Wheatbelt. She is currently doing ranger training and Municipal Law Enforcement to expand her knowledge and educate fellow migrants on local laws to lead by example.
“I migrated to Moora, a country town in the Wheatbelt in February 2014 from Switzerland because my husband and I decided to build our lives together in Australia. I hold a Bachelor degree in Speech and Language Therapy and worked as a Speech Pathologist in Switzerland for two years,” said Jasmin.
However, Jasmin’s Swiss qualifications weren’t recognised in Australia and so she found a job at the Moora District Child Care Centre.
“I was encouraged to study the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care to enhance my skills in the position as an educator. This course has helped me to gain knowledge about children’s learning and development and put it into practice at work,” said Jasmin.
“It is not easy to start a new life in a foreign country but doing further training opens up new doors and creates job possibilities. It enables people with English as a second language to improve their communication skills and therefore to actively take part in the community.”
Jasmin’s training has increased her communication skills, introduced her to new members of her community and enhanced her previous knowledge, but one of Jasmin’s favourite parts of her training was a unit in her course on cultural competency.
“Ongoing learning and reflective practice are essential to become culturally competent. Being from a different cultural background I am able to share parts of my culture with children and staff and help them to develop their own cultural identity.”
“Living in a remote town can make it difficult for people to access help and support and there are sometimes not many job opportunities. It can definitely increase your chances of getting a job if you have a qualification.”
If you’ve migrated to Australia in the last five years and are currently training for a better future, apply for the WA Cultural Diversity Training Award 2017. Visit dtwd.wa.gov.au/trainingawards for more information.