SIJING DAI | Sydney Today | June 3, 2015 15:00 PM
“Life in Australia makes me feel like staying in prison.” The statement has aroused sympathy among the Chinese migrant parents widely, who settled down in Australia with their children.
(Photograph: by SIJING DAI)
Recently the parents of young migrants have fallen into struggle, on whether to put down roots in a brand new environment together with their children or to remain in homelands. Among them, Chinese parents cover the largest proportion.
With the rocketing number of Chinese migrants in Australia, the confliction is no longer refined within a narrow range of Chinese. It now has become a social issue in the country.
Goodness in Australia
Sitting in the classroom and staring at the blackboard earnestly, some Chinese parents choose to spend several hours every week to take the courses from AMEP (Adult Migrant English Programme).
“I moved to Sydney with my daughter last year and I knew nothing about English before I took this class. ”, Mrs Weiwen Tang, one of the students from AMEP, said. “The government invested more than $200 million on the programme. We are lucky to enjoy the profits.”
AMEP is the government’s largest settlement programme since 1948, aiming to pass on the basic skills to the eligible migrants in Australia. It provides 510 hours of English language tuition as well as extra counsellors, individual pathways guides, settlement course, bilingual support, etc.
“The Australian welfare system is well-established and the weather here is so pleasant, comparing to the haze in China”, Mrs Tang added.
The comprehensive Age Pension system makes Australia categorised as one of the ten best countries to grow old in. The basic eligibility for the pensioners contains that they should be at least 65 years old and pass the evaluation of income and assets. The rates of pension supplement vary, depending on different family situation. A single recipient can get a total payment of $860.20 per fortnight. As to couples, they can acquire the pension of $1,296.80 altogether, with $648.40 separately.
(Photograph: Michael Hall/Getty Images)
From 2008 to 2013, the number of people aged 65 years and over in Australia rose by 533,000 to reach 3.34 million people, accounting for 14% of the total Australian population. The rising number makes the government feel tense on the budget of welfare system. Treasury proposed to kick millionaires off the pension. However, the Abott Government’s budget razor gang scuttled it to maintain the original Age Pension.
While receiving pension, additional payments and services are available to the aged at the same time, including centrepay, pensioner concession card, etc. Among all the benefits, Chinese aged migrants highlight medicare more.
“A thorough medical system is undoubtedly a strong support to the old, since the conditions of our bodies are getting worse with the growing of ages.” Mrs Lu said.
Medicare offers all Australian residents and certain groups of visitors access to medical and hospital service, covering free or subsidised treatments and accommodations in the treatment.
(Infographic: from 2014-15 Migration Programme)
Australia has attracted a large amount of migrants in the past few years. The statistics of 2014-15 Migration Programme indicates that parents occupied 14% in family visa streams, second to the partner of 79%.
China ranks third at the list of resident population in Australia, taking up 1.9% of the total population. The Australian government welcomes migrants. The Immigration Office has already issued more than 5 million visas in 2015.
Kinship vs. Enjoyment of Life
However, Mrs Lu is the minority among the Chinese parents, who enjoys life in Sydney. The Chinese migrant parents are more likely to refer to a group of the aged, who cannot speak or recognize English and feel social-isolated in Australia.
“Every day life makes me depressed and choked.” Mrs Tian Min said. She is also one of the Chinese aged students in AMEP, who has been living in Sydney for almost a year. “Because of the language and cultural gap, I feel myself like as an idiot and dumb. I can go nowhere without the companion of my daughter. ” Mrs Tian said with a sign.
The plight is frequent among Chinese migrant parents. The obvious contrast between life in China and Australia frustrates the parents, especially those who were accustomed to busy and substantial life in first-tier cities.
“I used to live in Beijing and worked in Beijing university.” Mrs Tian added, “I was totally lost in this city and nearly diagnosed as melancholia by the doctor. Luckily, now the situation has been improved since I have made some friends in church and at class.”
“Actually, I cannot see any significance in the welfare system. I once spent two hours waiting for the doctor even I have already made the reservation in advance. ”
“The immigrant office set a relatively low requirement on parent visa. Those who has half of the children settled down in Australia have reached the standard.” Ms Chen Yingfei, the officer of a Chinese immigrant agency, said. “The application of parent immigration includes two types of 103 visa and 143 visa. The difference is that the former is free, taking more than 30 years for queuing relatively. Most Chinese parents prefer 143 visa, which will cost a large amount of money but only takes 1 to 1.5 years.” Ms Chen added.
The Department of Human Services regulates that Age Pension is only accessible to an Australian resident, who has already lived in Australia for a continuous period of at least 10 years. It means that after the acquisition of the immigrant visa, the Chinese parents have to spend 10 years’ patient waiting until they are qualified with pension.
“’Wait’ is the most frequent word I heard from the immigrant agency. I am 65 years old now. I am not sure whether I can still be alive after 10 years.” Mrs Tian moaned.
(Photograph: by SIJING DAI)
In face of various setbacks, the sub-motivation behind to support the migrant parents originates from the Chinese traditional pursuit of family reunion. As to the migrant children, their senses of responsibility are fulfilled by means of living with dads and moms.
The parents are willing to be backup of their children. They do the housework and take care of the grandchildren when sons or daughters are busy with the job.
Although life in Australia is desperate to a large part of Chinese migrant parents, it is still hard for them to make the decisive choice ultimately.