Being adaptable in this new life has helped me to be what I am now – independent, confident, mature and motivated.
My name is Isabella. I am 21 years old and have been in Australia for three years. I currently have two casual jobs and am looking for a third. I like meeting new friends and helping people whenever I am able to do so.
Through these photographs I hope that I can deliver a message of help and support for migrants. This is what they need to start blooming in this country. We need more help, support and encouragement to succeed in our education, our employment and our social lives.
This photo symbolises the pathway that I am going through to reach my goals. I feel like I have almost reached my goals, but am not quite there yet. I am at this stage because of myself and the support and help that I have received and still receive from my family and friends.
One of my goals is to become an Australian citizen. Then I can have a passport, which will enable me to be a flight attendant. The other is to improve myself, to be better at what I do, which is work in hospitality and customer service.
This photo of piles at a dock represents the steps that I have taken since I came to Australia. These steps are all connected to the decisions I make all the time about my future.
I took my biggest step when I decided to change where I was studying. Studying in the city meant I would come and go by myself without having my parents with me all the time. I had friends who encouraged me to take this step and assured me that it would be better for me to learn English faster and to become independent. For the first two weeks I felt like an outsider and didn’t know anyone. It wasn’t easy. I thought of going back to be with my parents. I felt lonely and wished there was a person that I could spend time with. This eased bit by bit as I became familiar with my new studies and classmates.
I have found that taking some time to decide on your next step, planning it, and being motivated and determined are essential to getting closer to your goal.
This photo represents me and how I felt stressed when I studied. I thought I was ready for whatever challenges each course would bring, but I was wrong most of the time. I had some hard times studying, sleepless nights and almost no social life, all in preparation for my assignments.
I have always had help from people in matters related to my studies, but this would not have happened if I wasn’t always seeking help, feedback and self-improvement. Having a dream that is worth your time is never a waste.
This picture represents me as the ball, facing my future in Australia. The round ball rolls easily on the ground, so it adapts to the environment around it. Being adaptable in this new life has helped me to be what I am now – independent, confident, mature and motivated.
A time when I was really adaptable was having to face the truth that I would have to study English language with adults. This was because I was over 18 years old when I arrived in Australia. We had to leave my home country before I finished high school and I was expecting that when I arrived I would be able to go into high school like everyone else in Australia.
Learning with adults helped me discover that there are other ways to be with others my age, such as attending a language school with young people who had similar experiences to mine. I also participated in some activities that some organisations offer for young people and uni students.
My first educational experiences in Australia were not exactly what I dreamt of. It was hard but I had to live with the fact that I would need to create my own pathway.
This photo represents my educational journey towards achieving my dream. I have included the last qualification that I received because it took me a lot of time to get to this stage. Doing this Certificate III course was a really challenging step in my life.
During the first week of this course I noticed that I was surrounded by fluent English speakers. I found it hard to get along with them and make friends. I was unsure about my English and I needed to use my phone to translate all the time. They didn’t need to do this. By the end of that course I slowly got used to everything.
Sometimes I thought of withdrawing, but I didn’t because I wanted to prove to myself and others that it was possible. I had to study more than my classmates, highlight more new vocabulary and spend more time to prepare my assignments as well as they did. It was a tough semester, but I have achieved what I wanted to, and I am still working on my dream goal.
This represents my teachers because they helped and guided me by sharing their knowledge and experiences with me. The book represents their knowledge and the glasses their guidance, which helped me make the right decisions.
If it were not for all my teachers, I would not be where I am now. They helped me to improve my confidence in myself, so that I was then able to speak confidently and decide what my next step would be. I have always had help in choosing the next course I am going to study, and in applying for courses.
Growing with skills
A tree is held by two wooden stakes that help it grow straight. This symbolises me and the organisations that have helped me. They have helped me to apply for jobs and to prepare for my assessments at uni. They have also offered me opportunities to build my confidence in speaking and my job-related skills. If it wasn’t for them it would have been hard to get my RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) Certificate and to complete a barista course. These two things were the first steps, because the hospitality industry requires these two certificates at the very least to be considered for a job in a restaurant or café.
This photo represents friendship. You get so much support and encouragement from your friends and that keeps you moving onward. Friendship has helped me during my education.
For example, at the end of 2017 I had to do practical exams. My friends and I used to practise together every night to prepare for our next assignment. Even though I was so nervous and had the idea that I could not make it, my friends all encouraged me by saying ‘You can do it! We all are going to pass these assignments together and get our certificates’. Indeed, we all did! Their words, help, support and encouragement gave me the strength to keep going and never give up.
This drawing shows how hard it is for someone who speaks a different language (e.g. Arabic) to communicate with a person that speaks English fluently. It is hard for people who are newly arrived like us to understand what is better for them and what to do. They don’t understand much, even things like traffic signs. English starts as a barrier. Later it becomes the first step to start a new life in this new country.
I found that even though I could say the correct words, it was sometimes perceived as rude or I was misunderstood. When I first started working in hospitality and customer service, I was not talkative and could not even greet customers. The duty manager felt that I was rude but in reality, I was not confident in my English abilities and lacked knowledge of the appropriate ways to speak in a workplace.
It would be great if employers could understand that employees from refugee or asylum-seeking backgrounds could face some barriers that might make them feel discouraged. Employers should support and be patient because it could take some time to see their new employee’s best efforts.
This is a photo that represents the struggle that comes from interacting with Centrelink and jobactive providers. In this photo I drew the Centrelink and jobactive logos and included one of the sheets that is used to document the jobs I have applied for. Every month I have to apply for a minimum of 15 jobs.
When I first came to Australia I thought that these organisations, like Centrelink and jobactive providers, are meant to help people. But no, they just bring struggle, worries and stress to our lives. I have two jobs at the moment but because they both are classified as ‘casual’ jobs, my jobactive provider and Centrelink keep on telling me to find a full-time job or do full-time study.
Even though I have no time to take another job, and even though Centrelink does not support me financially anymore, every time I go to an appointment with my jobactive provider they ask me to look for a full-time job. My job plan requires me to report for six fortnights straight and not receive any income from Centrelink before my job active provider takes me off their system. They say that if I don’t look for full-time work they will have to put me in any full-time job they have. I am happy and comfortable building my skills to achieve my dream, but they keep on putting extra barriers in my path, just so they can take me off their system.
I actually have no more words to describe how confusing this, and how hesitant it makes me feel to start a new job or study more. I was planning to study this semester but I didn’t apply because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was scared that I would get less hours at work, which would mean having to apply for full-time work again.
This photo shows symbolises the support, comfort and optimism that I have received and am still receiving from my friends and family. I remember when I started my first job in this country my family was happy for me. They all kept on saying, ‘Good on you! You are doing great! You are going to be the best!’ That gave the motivation to give it my best shot.
Also, when I started my job I made friends at my workplace who are all lovely and supportive. My workmates understood the barriers that I experienced at the start like being hesitant to speak, and they helped me to come out of my comfort zone. If I didn’t have support and comfort I would not have all the skills, knowledge and confidence that I have now.