“The biggest reason (to come to Australia) was for a better life, for better pay and also to move out of Fiji, which has got a lot of political instability.”
Binesh Kumar grew up and lived in Fiji for most of his life. Mr Kumar, now 45, always dreamed of living in an advanced country and, in 2005 when his and wife Nina’s visa applications were approved, he felt as if he had won the lottery.
The poor economy and political instability that was present – and still is present in Fiji today – prompted the Kumars’ desire to move to Australia.
“The biggest reason (to come to Australia) was for a better life, for better pay and also to move out of Fiji, which has got a lot of political instability,” said Mr Kumar.
“Life in Fiji is a bit hard because pay is not that good. Houses are really hard to afford, basic living expenses are pretty high, especially after the four coups, living expenses have gone up and it is kind of difficult to make ends meet.”
After Mr Kumar and his wife lodged their visa applications it took about 18 months before they heard from the immigration department. There were numerous forms and applications that had to be lodged and both an English and medical test had to be passed.
“It took about a year and a half; from the day you lodge your application it takes the Australian Immigration about a year to look at everything … they have to check if it’s genuine or not. You send them 35 copies of your degree, certificates and birth certificate and that all has to be checked so it’s a long procedure,” Mr Kumar said.
Mr Kumar said it was “very anxious wait”.
“You just have to be patient and wait for things to progress. Every now and then they might contact you or you can contact them to find out how things are going and they might only tell you that they will be able to tell you something more within the next six months … but yes it’s a pretty long wait.”
As a maths and science teacher with nine years’ experience, Mr Kumar lodged an application as a skilled migrant. To be accepted he needed to have tertiary qualifications and some experience as a teacher with a satisfactory level of English. Mr Kumar completed the IELTS test and was required to get a band seven or higher in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
“(In Fiji) I was looking after the math department and I was the acting head of the department and there was about 10 staff in the department and I was just about to move to another school when I got my approval for my permanent residency in Australia,” Mr Kumar said.
When it came to moving and re-establishing themselves in Australia, Mr and Mrs Kumar found work relatively quickly. In the beginning, they had to live with Mrs Kumar’s brother, who had sponsored them, until they found a place of their own.
“Life is more exciting here, Sydney is bigger and brighter. Even though I have left my friends and family back in Fiji life is good,” Mr Kumar said.
“I imagined that money and life in general here would be better than Fiji, and it is.” – Rebecca Hopper
Photo by Rebecca Hopper