Australia: English language test makes it easier for Britons to emigrate

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Sep 1 15:36:54 UTC 2007

[image: BBC NEWS]
'Pom invasion' hitting Down Under
  By Nick Bryant
BBC News
*On the shores of Coogee beach in Sydney, British fitness expert Rob
Derbyshire gently reminds his British client Judith that gain is normally
accompanied by pain. *

 Dashing up the beach together, they look like part of a "pom" invasion of
Australia. And in many ways they are.

The number of British people emigrating to Australia has already increased
from 8,749 in the year from 2001 to 2002 to 23,290 in 2005 to 2006.

And it has just become easier for Brits to make their homes Down Under.

Changes to the points system, which come into effect on 1 September, will
award five valuable extra points for people who can pass a standard English
language test, a Brit-friendly policy partly designed to lure more "poms"

*'No looking back' *

The Lucky Country is facing a chronic skills shortage, and wants Brits to
make their home in this "help-wanted" nation.

For people like Rob, it should make the passage from Britain to Australia a
whole lot easier. Despite being a fully qualified aircraft mechanic, the
type of skill which Australia desperately needs, it required a four-year
struggle to get permanent residency.

"It was very laborious, on and off, and back and forward to the immigration
office. So it was a big relief when that magic piece of paper arrived in the
mail one day telling me I was in. There's no looking back," he says.

 Brad Ngata Hair Direction is one of Australia's leading salons - its
mantelpiece almost buckles under the weight of all its trophies.

But when it advertised for qualified hairdressers, it received only three
applicants. Brits, with scissors and dryers in hand, are helping to plug the

"It's really easy to get work in Australia hairdressing, because we're
really in demand," says Kelly Grant, who works alongside Brad Ngata.

"There's lots of job offers and lots of opportunities. My friends are always
surprised to learn how easy it is to get jobs here."

To some, this Brit-friendly policy is happily reminiscent of the "£10 poms",
the post-war government assisted scheme that helped more than a million
Britons to migrate.

 It was one of the best bargains going - a £10 fare for adult migrants, with
children travelling free.

To others, the award of extra points to fluent English speakers is more
sinister, with shades of the monocultural "white Australia policy", the
umbrella term for a swathe of policies and laws engineered to limit
non-white immigration which finally petered out in the early 1970s.

"I do see this as an attack on multiculturalism," complains Kate Gauthier,
from the group A Just Australia.

"This particular policy is about monoculturalism rather than
multiculturalism, which is disturbing because we have had a proud tradition
of multiculturalism in this country and it's certainly a step back towards
the white Australia policy. It's not all the way back, but it's going in
that direction," she says.

*Tougher tests *

Australia claims to be the most successfully multicultural country in the
world. According to the 2001 census, 23% of the population were born
overseas, while 43% of the population were either born overseas or had at
least one parent born overseas.

But gaining citizenship is just about to get tougher, and applicants will be
soon required to take a test on the country's history and values.

To qualify, they will be asked 20 questions - drawn randomly from 200 - and
be expected to answer 12 correctly.

   *It's not just about Don Bradman and beating the English cricket team *
Kate Gauthier

Who was the first Australian prime minister? What is the floral emblem of
Australia? You get the idea.

The idea is to balance ethnic diversity with social cohesion, and the
country's immigration minister claims it will not discriminate against
applicants with a non-Anglo background.

Ms Gauthier says: "If they don't pass they still remain a permanent resident
of Australia and we would encourage them to go away, have a look at the
resources, learn a bit more in the area where they might not have been
strong in and come back and sit it again."

 But she says the test is weighted against non-white applicants.

"All the questions on Australian culture are from a really Anglo-Saxon
perspective. It's about mateship and cricket. Australian culture is about
much more than that. It's not just about Don Bradman and beating the English
cricket team."

The booklet designed to help applicants with the test does speak of
Australia's "immense pleasure" at first beating the mother country in 1882.

For British applicants, Australia is about to become more welcoming - but is
it at the cost of migrants from other countries?

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/08/31 13:17:10 GMT

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