Determination and a positive outlook have helped chemical engineer Nadeem Hussain overcome early feelings of isolation and build a comfortable life for his family in north-east Victoria.
Nadeem first heard about the possibility of immigrating to Australia while studying for his Masters degree in Environmental Engineering at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok. ‘Many of the people I was studying with were thinking in that direction and I kept in touch with a few of them,’ Nadeem said.
It wasn’t until a few years later when he was working as an environment protection officer in Dubai that he decided to apply for a skilled migration visa to Australia. Recently married, Nadeem wanted to move to a country that was safe, prosperous and offered exciting work opportunities.
The application process took three years during which time Nadeem continued to work in Dubai. When his approval came through he decided to travel to Melbourne first.
Nadeem arrived in Melbourne in 2000 with his wife Uzma and their eldest son, Kamal, who was 18 months old. ‘I liked Melbourne immediately. It is a beautiful city – the way it is laid out, designed and how it functions.’
The family stayed for a few weeks but with little knowledge or support Nadeem found it hard to get a job so he made the difficult decision to return to Dubai and plan his return more carefully.
When the family arrived the second time in October 2002, they were much more prepared. They were picked up by a friend and given accommodation for a few weeks in Canberra while Nadeem made arrangements to move to Victoria.
‘I saw Victoria as more vibrant and a better place for work. I contacted a friend of mine in New Zealand who put me in touch with someone in Melbourne. He was very helpful and is now a close friend of mine. He helped us find a house to rent in Clayton while I started searching for work,’ recalled Nadeem.
‘My preference was always to work with Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) so I managed to track down an ex-EPA employee, who I had worked with in Dubai, and he was really fantastic. He and another ex-colleague both allowed me to use their names as referees, and that really helped.’
It took about seven months for Nadeem to get a job but when he did it was exactly what he was looking for – a position as an environment protection officer in the north-east Victorian town of Wangaratta. The position involves investigating environmental offences by industry and helping large companies meet their environmental obligations.
Acting Manager for EPA North East Regional Services, Fergal Grahame, said the Wangaratta office was fortunate to have someone with Nadeem’s skills.
‘Nadeem has a strong background in chemical engineering and specialises in dealing with the wood and textile industries. It’s very hard to find someone with his skills and experience so we’re very lucky to have him,’ said Fergal.
As a mother of four young children, Nadeem’s wife Uzma said she sometimes felt lonely but was gradually feeling more settled.
Two years ago she started evening classes at The Centre, a community resource facility in Wangaratta, and completed certificates 1 and 11 in information technology. In 2006 she also completed the first year of her Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in English, a high school qualification.
‘I’ve learnt a lot of computer skills and my English is improving all the time,’ said Uzma. ‘I’ve also made some friends and people have been very helpful.’
When it comes to the welfare of their children, both Nadeem and Uzma believe Victoria is a great place to bring up a family. ‘Our two eldest children are both at school – Kamal is eight years-old and Jaisha is six years-old. They are very excited about going to school in the morning and they are both doing very well. They also are making friends very easily,’ said Nadeem.
Nadeem and Uzma also have a four year-old daughter, Maasfa, and their youngest son, Hamdan, was born in Wangaratta in 2005. ‘We received absolutely stunning treatment at the Wangaratta Hospital,’ said Nadeem. ‘The midwife was very good, very caring….’
One of the things they look forward to as a family is travelling to Melbourne to catch up with friends and stock-up on spices and other food stuffs. ‘But there are more things available in Wangaratta all the time. For example, we can now get Halal meat here and there’s also a good kebab shop.’
Visitors from home are also welcome. In 2005 Uzma’s mother stayed for three months and they are hoping other family members will visit soon. ‘It was fantastic for my wife to have her mother here….. She was smiling all the time.’