During the last years, thousands are the Greeks who migrated to Australia due to the ongoing financial crisis, few are those though who came to the “promise land” with proper prior information. For those, the problems began shortly after their arrival.
“They leave behind an often tragic situation and arrive to a reality which they haven’t encountered even in their worst nightmares,” says John Athanassopoulos, president of the Hellenic Australian Community Support Association (HACSA). He adds, “Today, Australia seems to be a life saver for many people of different ages and socio-economic backgrounds.”
Athanassopoulos created HACSA in order to deconstruct the myth surrounding Australia, according to which the country is supposed to provide “great opportunities, many jobs and more money.” “Most of the immigrants coming from Greece don’t have the slightest idea about life here, about jobs or the real estate market and are shocked when they experience it,” says the HACSA president.
Housing is one of the biggest problems, he admits. “Finding and renting a house is a very difficult issue. Australian real estate agencies don’t let to newcomers, unless someone trustworthy guarantees for them or the interested tenants have at least one year in Australia.”
One of the hardest problems also is adapting to the new living conditions. How issomeone who held a senior executive position in Greece now looking for a job in a factory and can’t find one? One’s morale falls, unavoidably urging the person to return to Greece, only realizing that this isn’t possible.
“Of course, there are also Greek immigrants who have admirable courage. They adapt to the new life and prevail under incredibly harsh conditions. People in their fifties, who were senior governmental officials, are now forced to do manual labor,” explains Athanassopoulos.