10 Challenges Immigrants Face When They Migrate to Australia and How to Overcome Them - My Aussie Story (2023)

10 Challenges Immigrants Face When They Migrate to Australia and How to Overcome Them - My Aussie Story (1)

Your visa has been approved and you’re all excited because your move to Australia is finally becoming a reality. Then the excitement eventually wore off. You’ve now started to feel overwhelmed at the idea that you’re about to leave everything you know behind and is about to be a part of an unfamiliar culture.It’s no secret that as a new immigrant in Australia, your journey will involve a variety of hurdles.

Though these challenges seem to be somewhat inevitable, being aware of them, of what to expect as well as how you might be able to overcome them will really help you as you start out.That’s why today, not only did we compile a list of the 10 common problems that new immigrants in Australia encounter but we have also mentioned a few ways you could deal with them.

Finding Housing

Stable accommodation, I’d say, is the foundation of a good settlement. This would probably be one of the very first things that you’d need to organise. Finding that first property to rent will also be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a new migrant here in Australia. Newly arrived immigrants are disadvantaged in the rental market for a number of reasons.

The main reason is that, it’s not easy to secure a rental property here without previous local rental history or references as those are some of the main requirements. And if you’re someone who has a low level of English language proficiency, you may experience difficulties in understanding aspects of the process of applying for a rental property.

There’s also the issue of getting to places to inspect properties. It’s difficult to do that when you’re still at a stage where you rely on public transport. To top it all off, it’s almost impossible to figure out the perfect suburb for you to live in when you have limited knowledge of the different areas.

How to overcome

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  • If possible, stay in your family’s or close friend’s house while you’re still looking for your own place (be careful not overstay your welcome).
  • Familiarise yourselves with tenancy governing laws as well as your obligations as a tenant.
  • Search for properties online using websites like Realestate and Domain.
  • Try your luck in Facebook marketplace, FB groups, or Gumtree for some private listings. We found our first rental property here through Facebook marketplace.
  • Check out the real estate agencies in your area.
  • Use the internet to research the areas you’re looking at moving into. Try this website called Homely for reviews of streets and suburbs made by those who have resided there. I also find Facebook groups to be very useful in this regard.
  • If you have a limited budget to spend on rent, consider sharing options where you live with one or more people.
  • This isn’t for all but for those who are on low income and are eligible, the government provides some rental public housing though there is a very long waiting list.

Finding Employment

10 Challenges Immigrants Face When They Migrate to Australia and How to Overcome Them - My Aussie Story (2)

A common difficulty that almost all migrants face is the struggle to break into the Australian labour market. Securing employment as soon as possible is a very important step for obvious reasons. But the Australian labour market can be very competitive, specially for those of us who lack Australian work experience and ‘only’ have overseas qualifications.

These are some of the reasons why a lot of us start with mismatched skills and jobs. Keep in mind though that how quickly you can find a job here or what job you’ll manage to get is dependent on a lot of factors such as your individual skills and qualifications, the type of work you are seeking, the company you’re applying at, and even the economy.

How to overcome

  • Obtain professional and industry qualifications here in Australia that can help you find and keep the job that you like.
  • Get your overseas qualifications recognised. Find out how you can do so on the qualification recognition site managed by the Department of Education.
  • Prioritise getting an Australian work experience (even an entry level one) as it’s invaluable when it comes to securing an employment in your desired field.
  • Look for job ads on sites like Seek and Indeed.
  • Submit your resume and apply for jobs in person, even if the company isn’t advertising that they’re hiring.
  • Take advantage of Jobactive, an Australian Government employment service program, to help you search for vacancies (Jobsearch), write job applications, and learn interview techniques.
  • Maybe you’d like to be self-employed instead? The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme helps job seekers to become business owners.
  • In special circumstances, Centrelink may offer eligible newly arrived migrants, refugees, or visitors with social security payments. Access the information here.

Language/ Communication Barriers

The main language spoken in Australia is English. Without English language skills, migrants will less likely be able to participate in the society. It will make finding work, obtaining medical care, getting education, forming relationships, and just general getting around even more difficult.

Even if you’re proficient or is a native English speaker, you may still need a bit of getting used to when it comes to Aussie English specially the slang and their distinct accent. Speaking of accents, there are some cases where a migrant’s strong accent prevents them from being easily understood. If you haven’t been to Australia yet, I’d recommend you to watch this movie called “They’re a Weird Mob” (it’s on Netflix) to help you picture a bit of the experience. I’ve attached a clip from the movie below.

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How to overcome

  • Spend some time learning the Australian idioms, expressions, and slang.
  • Enroll yourself in English language programs. Take advantage of Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), a free service that helps migrants with low English levels to improve their English language skills.
  • Expose your self to the language, it’ll be easier to pick it up the more you put yourself out there.
  • Ask them what they mean if you don’t understand

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Cultural Differences

Some migrants feel a range of emotions in response to experiencing a variety of cultural differences between what they might be used to and what they’re currently experiencing here in Australia. ‘Culture shock’ is a very normal emotion to feel when you move to a different country. Non-Western immigrants might find it even harder compared to others to adapt to the Australian culture.

How to overcome

  • Make efforts to understand and learn about your new Australian culture, eventually adapting to it. You can read a lot about Australian culture here on our website.
  • Ask your Aussie friends and family any questions that would help you learn how the locals think and act.
  • Don’t isolate yourself. Encourage yourself to participate socially.
  • Take comfort in the fact that everyone in Australia are free to follow any religion or social customs that they choose.

Visa Insecurity

10 Challenges Immigrants Face When They Migrate to Australia and How to Overcome Them - My Aussie Story (3)

Those who are in Australia on an insecure visa are often in a state of prolonged insecurity. If you’re a migrant who is on a temporary visa, you’d probably always have your visa situation at the back of your mind, worried or terrified of being sent back ‘home’. A state of prolonged uncertainty may result in negative mental health outcomes. You may suffer from depression symptoms or in worse cases, severe psychological symptoms.

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How to overcome

  • Be part of a lot of social groups, specially those with people who are in a similar situation as yours. Social engagements is known to play a key role in positively influencing one’s mental health.
  • There are organisations in Australia that are dedicated to improving your mental health, like Beyond Blue and Lifeline, they could offer you support 24/7.
  • Talk to someone you trust about what worries you.

Community Perceptions

The Australian attitudes towards multiculturalism are largely positive, but still, community views and perceptions on this are wide ranging. Recently, it seems that there is a rise in the negative (and often unfounded) views on immigrants such as certain migrant groups’ association with gang criminal activities. This misguided public associations between ethnicity and crime leads to increased forms of discrimination, psychological harms, and social exclusion of migrants. You may notice that the presence of some minority groups in an area heightens the perception of crime in that neighbourhood.

Homesickness

When you first arrive here in Australia, you’re busy, confused, and full of anticipation to explore and experience new things. After this ‘honeymoon period’, homesickness may start to become a problem. Missing your family back ‘home’ and all of the places and things that are familiar to you is something that every migrant experiences. This is a normal reaction to being away from your homeland where you spent most of your life in and to now living somewhere that is completely foreign.

How to overcome

  • Watch movies, TV shows, or even vloggers from your homeland.
  • Eat comfort food you grew up eating.
  • Look for specialty stores that sells products from your country. You can also try ordering them online.
  • Talk your family more often online through video chat.
  • If you need to, have a good cry from time to time.
  • Remind yourself of your motivations for moving to Australia.

Forming New Relationships/ Friendships

10 Challenges Immigrants Face When They Migrate to Australia and How to Overcome Them - My Aussie Story (4)

While Australians have a reputation of being a friendly bunch, it’s still not always easy to look for new friends or form new relationships, specially when you factor in things like the difference in culture. When migrants move here, they leave behind some of the people that are most important to them. The initial period of your migration journey can be quite lonely and socially empty. Some may also feel pressured to have new friendships as it may be considered as a reflection of one’s immigration success.

How to overcome

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  • Be persistent and patient. Every person has their own pace and process of making friends.
  • Find a hobby that can become an opportunity to socialise.
  • Join FB groups with people of common interests or backgrounds as you.
  • Join a multicultural organisation

Transportation Issues & Obtaining an Australian Driver’s License

Being able to get around is an essential part of the everyday life and is sometimes required in some jobs. In most cases, you will be able to drive here on an overseas license as long as it is current and is used only within a certain length of time. Driving laws and regulations differ from state to state. Where you migrated from is also an important variable. There are residents of certain countries that are allowed to have a local version of their foreign driver’s license while there are others who will have to do a driving test to obtain an Australian driver’s license.

How to overcome

  • If your driver’s license is not written in English, you will have to carry a translated copy.
  • Consult with the Department of Transport and Main Roads near you or on their website for information on getting an Australian driver’s license.

Mental Health Issues

All of these stresses, the homesickness, visa and financial insecurity, culture shock, having to do ‘menial jobs’, and the pressure to succeed can result in negative impacts on your mental health. This is even made more difficult when your support network is so far from you. You may develop feelings of isolation, anxiousness, depression, and gambling problems etc.

How to overcome

  • Seek help and guidance from organisations dedicated to mental health such as Beyond Blue and Lifeline.
  • Talk to someone you trust and open up about how you’re feeling.

Conclusion

Having to face challenges is a normal part of making such a big change in your life, changes like migrating. You can consider these ten common dilemmas that immigrants face in the initial years of their move to Australia as ‘growing pains’. Note that you won’t necessarily experience all ten but no matter what you go through, know that you’ll get through it somehow and don’t be scared to ask for help and advice specially from those who are going through or has experienced the same things. You can ask us, this is what My Aussie story was made for.

Do you have any questions, tips, or advice to share? Comment down below!

DisclaimerAll content and information in this post is for purposes of sharing my experiences only, does not constitute professional advice and does not establish any kind of professional-client relationship.

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