A gap year in Australia is the biggest draw-card for young Argentinians
By Natalia Godoy
In 1998, Argentina and Australia collaborated on the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, located in South Sydney. Since the completion of this project the relationship between both countries has maintained its strength, says the general consul of Argentina in Sydney Emiliano Waiselfisz.
“To put it simply, the only operating nuclear reactor in Australia was made and designed by Argentinian professionals”, he says proudly.
Today this cooperation continues with the exchange of young professionals, who move between these two countries, looking to develop their skills and who also look to live new adventures.
For many Australians, the Argentinean wine industry has motivated them to travel to South America to learn and share knowledge about sector, tells Emiliano Waiselfisz, who has been the Consul-General in Sydney for about two years. He adds, “there is an important exchange of youngsters in Rugby, which is a very popular sport in both countries. Of course, given the collaboration on the nuclear reactor, engineers and professionals from both countries continue to work together”.
700 Argentinians choose Australia every year to improve their English through the “Work and Holiday Visa Program (W&H)”. The diplomat says this program began with 500 visas and is offered yearly to Argentinians to work Down Under by the Australian Government, this has now increased to 700. In the last two years those visas have run out. “Most young Argentinians come to Australia as soon as they finish University, motivated to improve their English. In the first year they would work in different types of jobs and after saving enough money, they would travel around Asia”.
Emiliano Waiselfisz says a small number of those travellers decide to stay longer in Australia, many choose to go back to Argentina, happy with their ‘work and holiday’ experience in Australia. This is one of the reasons that Argentinian Community has maintained its small presence in Australia. There have been only a few bursts of large numbers of immigration by Argentines to Australia; in the seventies and at the beginning of the 2000s.
The Argentinian Council-General estimates the number of expatriated Argentine residents in Australia is around 18 thousand. Most of the community lives in Fairfield and Liverpool in Western Sydney. While, Argentine travellers have chosen to base themselves in Manly and Bondi in Sydney, and other smaller groups have gone to the Gold Coast and Perth. “If you add together skilled migration, residents, and even students, none exceed the number of W&H Visas granted to Argentinians. Each year Australia grants around 200 permanent visas to Argentinians, another 200 for students, and about 50 skilled visas, there isn’t a significant number for Sponsored and Defacto/Partner visas. But those numbers are still very small compared to the W&H Visa”, he says.
Despite the small interest by Argentinian professionals to live in Australia, the conditions to migrate are good, he says. “If Argentinians want to work as a professional here, they have plenty of opportunity. They are culturally very similar to Australians in values, religion and education than some other countries that have even closer relations and exchange with Australia”.