Yesterday I had my nails done by a Nepalese man who has been in Hobart for three months. His story provides critical insight into the experience of migrants, and international students in particular, in Tasmania.
While I didn't learn his name, he was very well spoken and obviously well educated. He is here in Hobart to support his wife who is studying accounting at the University. He works 10 hours a day 7 days a week to save the $11,000 per semester for his wife to study here. When she is not studying, she also works as a nail technician. It's when they get to spend time together. It takes them 20 minutes to walk to work but he is considering buying a car to help his wife as there is no appropriate public transport to get to work or university (but parking is expensive and they don't earn much).
They chose Tasmania because of the low cost of living but as soon as his wife graduates they are looking forward to moving to Melbourne to get good jobs and live in a city which is not as quiet as Hobart and more cultural diversity.
It's a similar story to the Sudanese taxi driver I had the other week. He told me that many of his Sudanese community have left Tasmania but he likes it here and wants to stay. He and his wife are expecting their third child but they are going to have it in Sydney where they have more family support and better access to health services. He too was well spoken and obviously well educated but said the only regular work he can get is driving a cab. He likes the quiet life that Hobart offers.
These stories are reflective of migrant experiences in Tasmania and provide an alternative perspective to the current view of migrants as potential economic inputs. They are also people seeking opportunities for themselves and their families.