Immigration’s monologue, life is elsewhere

Abolishing the 457 Work Visa (Photo: Minister for Immigration and Border Protection)

On 18 April 2017, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton jointly announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be axed, instead a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa was created to deal with the skill shortages in some businesses. The full implementation will be completed by March 2018.

Even though the 457 visa was not designed for the immigrants to get the permanent residency, but once the applicants can get the 457 visa they can further apply for the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) which guarantees the applicants permanently stay in Australia.

Due to the nature of the 457 visa, there are many applicants on the skill shortages list, however, the labour market hasn’t tested whether an Australian can do the job or not. The market even facing the surplus of the workers in some working fields.

The Turnbull Government’s action is aiming at ensuring Australian workers are given the absolute priority for jobs. In other words, they think they are under the threat of overseas workers in labour market.

During the Australia-China Business Week in 2015, Mr Turnbull said at the conference: “Since mid-2013, responding to the wind down in construction, the number of 457 workers in Australia has decreased, while the number of 457 visa holders from China account for only 6 per cent of the total.”

Subclass 457 quarterly report (Source: Department of Immigration and Border Protection)

Jade Liao who is from Taiwan is one of them who wants to find a shelter in Australia. She is 25 years old and studying early childhood care in MEGT at the moment. This is her third year in Australia.

Before she came to Sydney, she was major in Information Management and after graduated from university she applied for an administrator position for the department of obstetrics and gynaecology and worked in that field for a year in Taiwan.

When talking about the life in Taiwan, Liao seems very satisfied with the lifestyle in her hometown.

“The humidity in the air is very high in Taiwan; I lived in the city, we have night markets every day and many 7-11 convenience shops nearby. The bus stop is close, it’s not far from where I live to the workplace.

“The citizens in Taiwan are very hospitable. However, life pressures can be a burden to people in Taipei no matter from life aspect or money aspect.”

Liao firstly came to Sydney when she was as in her first year in university in Taiwan. She was forced by her family to come here for a month to study language at the University of Sydney. In the meanwhile, her boyfriend was an exchanged international student in the University of New South Wales.

They met each other in the party that held by Taiwanese in Sydney to get together the Taiwanese and let people make acquaintance with each other.  That is a common method to know people from your hometown or home country in Sydney for many other countries’ students. They agreed at that time after graduated in Taiwan, they can apply for the working holiday visa and enjoy the leisure lifestyle here for a year. But they are not a couple at that time.

After her boyfriend came here on working holiday visa for half a year, Liao quit her job in Taiwan and flew to Sydney on her working holiday visa as well. Liao said she is lucky because she knew him as a friend so she can temporarily live at his place and ask for his advice to find a job at first.

Liao used Gumtree as a platform hunting for jobs, in the meanwhile she got an RSA certificate so that she can broadly search for restaurant jobs. Eventually, she got her first part-time job in a restaurant near Darling Harbour in Sydney.

According to Liao, her first job was far more good than her expectation, but soon she resigned because the work required her to look after six tables at the same time and she had to recite all the dishes and wines name on the menu which was difficult for her as she cannot handle all those tasks in serving customers at the same.

“I cried a lot at that time. The salary was good, but I really cannot endure it anymore, so I told the manager that I am not suitable for this position and I want to quit the job.”

Jade’s current part-time job (Photo: Jade Liao)

The working holiday visa requires them to work at a farm for half a year, so after that, they decided to go to a farm to become eligible to apply for a second working holiday visa.

When they made the decision, they told the landlord that they want to move out. The landlord, a middle-east man blamed them for not taking good care of the house and he didn’t return bonds to them. The house was in a messy because of their housemate, a French usually held parties at the backyard thus the room was always dirty with cockroaches and rats.

“I was so angry when I know the landlord won’t pay the money back to us, thus on the day we left, I poured soy sauce on his carpet in our room,” she said with anger.

When they arrived at the farm in Melbourne, the job in front of them was grape picking. They slept in a car and used clothes as pillows and quilts. They got up at 5 am and they finished work at 4 pm in a day. They picked the grapes and put it in the plastic bags. A cardboard contains 12 plastic bags of grapes like those we can see in Woolworth or Coles.

They earned 2 to 3 Australian dollars for picking one cardboard of grapes. If the farm’s owner found out the bad ones in a package he asked them to do it again until it is qualified to put into the market. They didn’t own a car at that time, so they paid 5 Australian dollars each time to ask a car to give them a ride to Woolworth. They earned 100 Australian dollars per week in total, the wages were very low for them compared to working in Sydney.

Thus, they decided to go to a racecourse in Adelaide. They only got $6000 in their bank account, they spent $2400 to buy a car in Adelaide. After they arrived at the racecourse they found out the owner deliberately delays assigning jobs to the working holiday visa holders so that she can earn more money from renting the house to those people.

They left the place and found another racecourse around Blue Mountains through a website and they transferred $200 Australian dollars to its bank account to secure a room in the racecourse as told by the staff on the phone. But after three days driving and reached to the destination, they realised it was a fake one. At that time, the deposit in their bank account was zero.

After coming back to Sydney, Liao continuously doing several jobs in Sydney. It was when her boyfriend got the promise from his boss that he can be offered 457 visas later to stay in Australia, Liao decided to do a certificate plus a diploma in childcare.

Liao talks about her life and perspectives in Australia

The look of Cubby College (Photo: Jade Liao)

Liao thinks what Australian Government did is a false decision, some jobs offered low wages and needed hard work in it. Local people may not want to do them, but axing 457 visas cannot change citizens’ inner thoughts and some positions do face the shortage of skilled people which made the circumstance worse.

Liao talks about government’s action on axing 457 visas

Now, her boyfriend’s job is eliminated from the list, they must think of other possible ways to stay in Australia or go back to Taiwan. However, Liao feel confident and energetic with every day’s life. She recently got the manager’s offer asking if she is willing to do a casual work at the Cubby College where she spent three weeks doing an internship back then.

The email of the offer of a casual work (Photo: Jade Liao)

All those experiences about being a waitress, a sales person, a receptionist and a student are the most cherished thing she gained through three years’ life in Australia.  And, living in the present.

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