Mukul Hatwal and his family have a terrific life in Victoria.
While Mukul enjoyed a successful career in urban and regional planning and a respected social status in India, he wanted more for his family.
‘I like challenges so decided to find a place my wife would enjoy, that could benefit my career and give my son more certainty for his future too,’ Mukul said.
It was a lot to ask for, but Mukul thought he’d found a possible place after meeting Victorian delegates at an international planning conference in Mumbai in 2000.
Impressed with the descriptions of Victoria’s lifestyle and job opportunities, he investigated further at www.LiveInVictoria.vic.gov.au. Next, Mukul convinced his wife Mona and son Aishwarya, then aged 8, to make the move.
‘I told them we’d stay for three months to see if it worked and treat the visit as a holiday,’ Mukul said. ‘We knew we had found the right spot as soon as we arrived.’
Victoria boasts a sophisticated and growing economy with demand for skilled workers in the capital, Melbourne, as well as its thriving and well-connected regional centres.
Newcomers to Victoria join one of the world’s great migration success stories. Almost a quarter of its people were born overseas and they come from over 200 countries, speak over 180 languages and dialects and follow over 110 religious faiths.
The Indian community is one of the state’s fastest growing, with about 50,000 Indian-born people living in Melbourne and another 80,000 claiming Indian ancestry.
Mukul arrived in Victoria on an independent skilled visa with Mona and Aishwarya.
‘I knew it would take time to resume to the career level I had reached in India but I was confident I could, and this has happened,’ Mukul said.
He has since worked with five regional local governments and in 2009, Mukul took on the role of Manager of Planning and Development in the Shire of Mitchell. Located less than one hour from Melbourne, the Shire is one of Victoria’s fastest growing communities. In 2012, Mukul took the role of Strategic Planning Project Manager (Growth Area) in the City of Ballarat.
‘Victoria’s population is growing fast and there are many challenges for city planning which I enjoy,’ Mukul said. ‘I have been welcomed everywhere I have worked and have made some wonderful friends.’
In 2006, the family settled in the picturesque City of Ballarat, just 110 km from Melbourne. Ballarat is a thriving inland regional city with a population of 90,000, two major hospitals, some of Victoria’s best public and private schools plus two universities.
Established during the 19th century gold rush, the city boasts stately buildings and wide, tree-lined avenues and has a major local and international tourism industry centred around its historical past and the region’s premier food, wine and outdoor attractions. The city is in a key strategic position at the centre of some of Victoria's most important freight, tourist and commuter transport routes.
‘The climate is very much like Northern India and the hills remind me of home,’ Mukul said. ‘The community is very generous and welcoming.’
In Ballarat, Mukul has delivered on his promise to find a place that Mona loved.
‘She has a very rewarding job as a Team Leader at an employment and training business in Ballarat and has made many friends,’ Mukul said.
The couple has built a brand new modern house in a new suburb just minutes from Ballarat’s city centre where there’s an Indian food shop and several take-away Indian restaurants.
Watching their son, Aishwarya, grow and achieve has been the best thing about Victoria for Mukul and Mona.
Aishwarya attended a private school in Ballarat which is among the best performing regional schools in the state.
‘The fees were very reasonable for the high quality of education he received and he was made very welcome,’ Mukul said.
In 2009 Aishwarya was accepted into the prestigious medical school at Australia’s largest university, Monash University in Melbourne.
Aishwarya has also achieved in his new community. He has served as a volunteer Youth Councillor, is currently a Youth Adviser to Victoria’s Privacy Commissioner and has been selected for the Vice Chancellor’s student leadership program at his university. In 2010, Aishwarya was nominated for Young Citizen of the Year in Ballarat’s Australia Day awards. In 2011, Aishwarya was selected for the prestigious John Flynn Placement Program by the Department of Health and Ageing.
‘He has a wonderful future ahead and we are very proud and pleased for him,’ Mukul said.
Victoria’s regional communities have welcomed and supported Mukul and his family.
The couple has made many friends by responding to local newspaper advertisements and social networks for community volunteers. Mukul and Mona have helped organise community festivals and Mukul even has a weekly radio show on community radio. Mona also gave her time during 2009-2011 as a Multicultural Ambassador for the City of Ballarat and continues to contribute to the city’s Cultural Diversity Strategy.
In 2010 Mona was a recipient of the prestigious Ballarat Community Safety Awards. In 2011, Mona graduated as a Fellow of the Leadership Ballarat Western Region program. In the same year, Mona received a Multicultural Award for Excellence for her contributions to the local community – this was presented by the Premier of Victoria. In 2012, Mona was appointed to the Grampians Regional Advisory Council by the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
In 2007, the couple helped to form the Ballarat Indian Association and recent activities include an Indian Independence Day flag raising at the Ballarat Town Hall, the first annual Diwali ‘festival of lights’ and Holi ‘festival of colours’ celebrations in Ballarat, an Australia Day Community Harmony Cricket Match and the first annual ‘Celebrate India’ cultural function. All featured in the local media and were well received by the wider community.
Mukul’s mother, Dulari, joined the family in 2003.
‘She is 75 years old but has adapted so well,’ Mukul said. ‘She attends functions and activities in Ballarat and enjoys spending time with Australians and other multicultural people.’
The family became Australian citizens before a large audience at a community Australia Day celebration in 2006.
‘Australia is a blessed country with great opportunities and in Victoria we are in the right spot,’ Mukul said. ‘There is still so much to look forward to.’