Moving to Victoria was easier and faster than Marne Estacio expected.
At the start of 2007 the Estacio family had no plans to migrate from the Philippines but by 2009 they were enjoying life as permanent residents in Victoria.
Marne, a nurse and her solicitor husband, Joven, originally thought they would not qualify for skilled migration.
‘I was very impressed with Melbourne when I visited for a conference in 2000 but I didn’t think it would be possible for us to migrate,’ Marne said.
Marne’s sister had already moved to Victoria as a skilled migrant and insisted that nurses were also needed. So in 2007, Marne looked up the website of the Nurses Board of Victoria and found she was right.
‘I just needed to do a three month bridging course to become a Registered Nurse in Victoria and to qualify for skilled migration,’ Marne said.
It was a big decision to leave the Philippines, but Marne and Joven thought their three daughters would have better opportunities in Australia.
‘We thought in Victoria our children would be better prepared for global competitiveness,’ Marne said.
Marne arrived alone in Victoria in May 2008 on a Business (Short Stay 456) visa to complete the bridging course with a government-accredited college.
The course included a work placement in the regional city of Mildura. Marne was very satisfied with the college, which arranged accommodation and made her feel welcome and supported.
Marne assumed when she finished the course she would return to the Philippines and apply for a job and sponsorship.
‘But before I had finished the work placement I was offered a job at the hospital!’ she said.
Everything was easy from there. The hospital’s recruitment officer took care of the visa paperwork and Filipino-Australian friends she had made in Mildura helped Marne find rental accommodation.
In February 2009, Joven and their daughters, then aged 11, 13 and 15, joined Marne in Mildura.
Just eight weeks later, the Estacios were granted permanent residency after Marne’s employer sponsored her for a Regional Skilled Migration Scheme (857) visa.
‘It all happened very fast. We never thought it would be that easy,’ said Marne.
Marne had assumed Mildura would be small and isolated when she learned she would complete her work placement in a rural location. Instead she found a thriving regional centre with 30,000 people.
Tucked in the north-west corner of Victoria, Mildura has high quality education and health services, large supermarkets and stores and many sporting, entertainment and social facilities.
The climate is warm and there is a thriving tourism industry centred around the region’s food and wine and the mighty Murray River, which separates Victoria from the state of New South Wales.
There is a major highway and good public transport to Melbourne and other regional centres. Qantas and other airlines also offer daily affordable services to Melbourne.
The Estacios found settling into Mildura’s community easier than expected.
Mildura is experiencing demand for tradespeople and professionals in a number of occupation, and new migrants are welcomed. Around 17 per cent of people in Mildura were born outside Australia and around 14 per cent speak a language other than English at home.
Marne has easily adapted to her new working life. Her employer is very supportive and people are friendly and respect her skills.
‘The care that nurses give in Victoria is more holistic than in the Philippines where nurses just give medications and do what doctors ask,’ said Marne. ‘Even if it requires more work here I find it more fulfilling because people are very appreciative of the care they receive.’
Her husband, Joven, has found a job as a legal secretary and is working to become a registered lawyer in Victoria.
Most importantly, after taking a little time to adapt to speaking English, their daughters are happy and doing well in their free government school where they have many friends. Marne expects they will study at university once they complete their school studies.
The Estacios have continually discovered unexpected benefits of Victoria as they have settled in.
‘For example, the health care system in Victoria is exemplary,’ said Marne. ’The government provides high quality health care even in regional areas and it is very much accessible to everyone.’
The Estacio family are now very settled in Mildura. Marne now works as the medical officer (medical intern) at Mildura Base Hospital, with Joven working for the Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council.
‘We are very comfortable here and enjoy the lifestyle in the region,’ said Marne. ‘It is a five minute walk to my job, the schools are nearby and everything we need is here.’
The couple are active in their community and as more Filipino migrants are arriving in Mildura they have formed an organisation to welcome newcomers.
Staying in touch with family is easy. Marne’s sister lives in Melbourne, she also has a brother living in Australia and she and Joven speak to family in the Philippines every second day.
‘We have no regrets and are looking forward to seeing our daughters achieve and fulfil their dreams in Victoria,’ said Marne.