Perth, Australia

New Bhutanese going to Australia face troubles with jobs and housing

Finding affordable accommodation or housing in Perth, Australia is becoming harder by the year for the many Bhutanese there. The situation is worsened by job scarcity.

According to The West Australian, the only locally edited daily newspaper in Perth, in the past three years, Perth has recorded the biggest slump in house rental affordability in the whole of Australia, with an 86 percent drop in the number of houses available for less than AUD 400.

Home Hub, a website for West Australia (WA) that provided simple and easy access to safe and affordable housing wrote, “WA has a worsening affordable housing crisis. Over 194,000 people need affordable housing, less than 1 percent of the homes in the Perth Metro area are vacant with even fewer vacancy in some regional communities.”

As the ongoing housing crisis looms over Perth, those who recently went to Australia to pursue their studies are facing hurdles in terms of renting a house.

Choden stays with her spouses’ relatives in Perth. “The housing situation is very difficult here. It is hard to rent a house and even harder to rent an affordable one. That’s why, it is normal to stay with the people you know, sharing houses and rooms among ourselves.”

According to Kuenzang, a Bhutanese living there for more than a year, there is a stringent system a person has to follow to rent a house or apartment in Australia. “Here, in Australia, to be able to rent a house, first you need to have a job and show the owner a pay slip and a bank statement. And as soon as you get to Australia, it is nearly impossible to get a job, which is why many Bhutanese land up staying with people they know, not being able to rent a house.”

She also added that as Australia’s job system depends on a recommendation system, if the one who recommends does not have a good case of workplace ethics, it is difficult to find a job.

There is a case of a family of four; husband, wife and their two children getting separated as they could not find a house to lease. The husband is currently at Perth renting a small apartment and the wife and children are in Brisbane with their relatives.

They will only be able to meet each other if they are able to rent an apartment big enough for the family.

Tshering, a Bhutanese who recently went to Perth, Australia for her studies, said that it is very hard to get a job and a house. “I’m a student, and we are only entitled 24 hours a week to work. It is already hard to get a job and with the high living standard, I can only afford to pay my utility bills only.”

Tshering is a causal worker or a part timer at a restaurant and she shares an apartment with her two friends. She pointed out that, due to inflation and high living standard, it is hard to rent a house in Perth and the rents are very high.

Choden also pointed out the toxic nature of some of the Bhutanese living in Perth. “To get a job here, you need to get recommended by someone. When I approached my fellow Bhutanese for a recommendation, they refuse to give us one, in fear that we will get better jobs. We see the real nature of people when you get here.”

According to Kuenzang, a sheltered mindset leads to hurdles in getting a job. “It takes time to get a job, but eventually you get one. The problem is that, our fellow Bhutanese mates like it easy and don’t want to take up tougher jobs. If that mindset stays, it will be impossible to get a job.”

Nidup has been living in Australia for two years. He said that with many incoming immigrants, and no COVID restriction, and with inflation, the rent is high. “To get a house, you need to apply and talk with registered real estate agents. And to get a house, there is so many things you need, recommendations from others and with many applicants, it is hard to get a house to rent.”

He pointed out that, at the moment, most Bhutanese are staying together, with about 7-8 of them living together in an apartment.

He also further added that jobs are available for skilled workers. “If you have the needed skills, jobs are available here, but the problem with us, Bhutanese is that we lack the proper skills needed. The skills can be for construction or plumbing, you will get a job. However, currently, most of our Bhutanese work in cleaning, age care and warehouses. It depends on the individual’s skill, and it is a plus if you have a recommendation.”

He also shared that the new Bhutanese coming to Perth will face troubles for a while with many incoming international students, and the housing crisis and working hour restrictions of 48 hours per fortnight.

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