Migrating to Victoria is the best thing the Chandak family ever did.
“Victoria has exceeded all our expectations,” said Pradeep Chandak.
“We came here for the job opportunities and to find a better lifestyle for our children and we have found these things, and much more.”
Mr Chandak and his wife Meena moved to Victoria with their two sons, Krishna (8) and Shyam (7) in 2007.
Both teachers, the Chandaks are originally from Hyderabad in India, although they spent several years in New Zealand before moving to Victoria.
Despite growing up in a large Indian city, the Chandaks have mostly lived outside Victoria’s capital, Melbourne, since arriving.
Mr Chandak has found no shortage of teaching work in regional Victoria.
When he first arrived ahead of his family, Mr Chandak took a job at a school in the coastal city of Warrnambool, a major centre of 30,000 people around 3 ½ hours drive from Melbourne.
“This school has a sister school relationship with a school from Indore,” said Mr Chandak. “I shared a house in Warrnambool with a university student who was very kind while I was without my family. We had dinner together most nights and he still calls to see how I am doing.”
Mr Chandak and his family reunited in Moe, a town of around 18,000 people in the Gippsland region just over an hour’s drive from the capital.
While they enjoyed living there, the Chandaks have now settled in the small town of Ararat in the Grampians region, after Mr Chandak took a teaching position at a local government school.
The family has found everything they want in this small town of 8,000 people.
“The children love it here and tell us they never want to leave,” said Mr Chandak. “Every sport and activity is very affordable to everyone here so there is lots to do. They have many new friends and they are always busy.”
Ararat services a wider farming and tourism area, so has high quality education and health services and there are large stores and supermarkets, many services, recreation and entertainment opportunities.
Some of Victoria’s best national parks are nearby and Melbourne is just two hours drive away and well-connected by train and bus.
Victoria’s multicultural population means even small towns like Ararat have migrants in their community.
“We never feel like a minority because people are from many different nationalities,” said Mr Chandak.
“I am cheered and respected by the school staff and the students in the classroom too. We occasionally attend Christian churches and are always welcomed and many people have shown us unexpected kindness.”
Mr Chandak was amazed when the assistant principal of the Ararat school insisted on lending the family some furniture until theirs arrived from Moe.
“A week later the pastor from the Moe church voluntarily drove his car with our household items and furniture on a trailer from Moe to Ararat (over five hours drive),” said Mr Chandak. “This is the sort of generosity we experience in Australia.”
Mr Chandak and his wife say they don’t miss India.
“We do not feel far from our family,” he said. “Phone calls are not expensive from Australia so I speak to my parents for at least half an hour most days.”
The family are looking forward to gaining their permanent residency after the Victorian Government recently agreed to sponsor Mr Chandak.
“Our life is much better now and our children have many opportunities for their future they would not enjoy in India,” he said.
“Every day we think about the good things that have happened since we came to Victoria and we know we made the right decision.”
Images courtesy of the Ararat Courier.