Australian migration - not all about unemployment or the Dollar, say Bhutanese living in Australia

news_image_1654951576.jpg
Bhutanese moving to Australia has become a major concern for the country and the labour market. While it is presumed that the migration is caused and catalyzed by lack of jobs in Bhutan and the hunger for the dollar, Bhutanese living in Australia say there is more than jobs and the dollar and their ultimate aspiration is securing the future.  
Chimi, from the Australian capital Canberra, said he and his wife did not leave Bhutan because they were unemployed. “We had decent jobs and were doing fairly well in Thimphu. My wife wanted to upgrade her qualifications and no matter how hard she tried, due to reasons we are oblivious of, she could never get a government scholarship though there was budget allocated for HR and masters course in her ministry’s plan,” he said. According to Chimi, there are many Bhutanese in Australia who have moved out due to similar reasons. “Even if you get a scholarship through a competitive bid, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) sometimes rejects your scholarship, saying it is not relevant to your post. I hope these things are not happening now,” he said.
According to Chimi, once he and his wife landed in Australia, they saw opportunities that Bhutan does not have. “We cannot compare Australia with Bhutan. We are a developing country, but there are several support mechanisms provided even to migrants like us, which helps in improvising our standard of living, which ultimately leads to happiness – the ultimate aspiration for all human beings,” he said, adding that he can “modestly say that their future is now secure.”  
Another Bhutanese from Canberra, who did not want to be named had the same to say. “Dzongsar Jambyang Khentse, in an interview with your paper had said that the government has to create enabling conditions. Are there any enabling conditions other than free education and health services,” he questioned. A civil servant who retired, he narrated how he had to take a loan from the Bank of Bhutan just to settle in Thimphu after he became a civil servant. “And we have one of the highest interest rates in the world. I could not repay my loan of Nu 75,000 for about 5 years,” he added. 
“I recently read a post on facebook about the rents in Thimphu, which are 75 percent of what average civil servants earn. I also read your paper, which says that Property Tax has not been revised since 1992 and building owners pay a tax of just Nu 100 per year. This is ridiculous,” he said. “I do not mean to say that the government should be giving freebies. But people need incentives. It is a whole new world and our policy makers are still a century back,” he said. He underlined that average citizens, who are now crowded in Thimphu see the “huge gap between their future and the future of those who already have everything.” “They see no future for themselves and their children. They see themselves living in the same rented apartment until they superannuate and their children without a decent job. And then they make the decision to migrate,” he said, adding “it is always a big decision and for some, one of the biggest decisions they make.” 
Dorji from Perth, also had similar views to share. “Yes! Life here is difficult; we have to work hard, but the gains are equally good. We need not worry about paying the house rent and bills like we had to in Thimphu. We can work when we want to and take breaks. And most importantly, we can provide one of the best education to our children here,” he said. Tenzin added that one of the biggest challenges in Thimphu was attending to social calls. “Imagine; I used to be broke by the first week of the month though many call me a jew, even here. Out here, we are free of all this. I do not mean to say that social obligations are not important, but it does make things difficult,” he said, adding living in Thimphu was “very stressful.” “Adding to all these are our people who engage in Chinese whispers, leaders who like those who know how to attend to them and other factors, which takes the stress to a new level.” “The light at the end of the tunnel for me was Australia and I am now here, physically, financially and mentally very well,” he added. “I miss Bhutan; the beauty of Dochula; the pristine water from the phallus in Dechenphug Lhakhang and others. But these will not ensure that when I am 65, I can lead a good life without concerns about my children,” he said. 
Another Bhutanese in Perth, who did not want to be named said he was shocked to see a Bhutanese “who is an intellectual, very capable and one he looked up to in Perth.” “When someone like him also moves to Australia to secure his and his family’s future, what about people like us,” he questioned. “However, it does not mean that Bhutanese who have moved to Australia say there are no opportunities in Bhutan. But the opportunities here are more and easier for an average person like me to ensure that when I die, I will at-least have a home of my own where religious rites can be peacefully conducted and the lives of my two children secured, too.” 
In an earlier article done by The Journalist, Bhutanese in Australia said they are not forsaking the country. The paper was also told that an education census conducted last year recorded about 7,500 Bhutanese in Perth. Canberra has the second highest number with an estimated 3,000. Bhutanese are also spread across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and other parts of Australia. Meanwhile, there is no decline in the number of Bhutanese applying for visas to Australia.