Nishant Sharma (NSW Supreme Court Lawyer Australia)
- Australia has long been a melting pot of cultures, welcoming people from all corners of the globe to call it home. One such community that has seen significant growth in recent years is the Nepali diaspora. There arenow over 130,000 (anecdotal) Nepali people residing inAustralia, with an additional 60,000 Nepali international students pursuing their education in the country. This influx of Nepali residents and students has led to theestablishment of vibrant communities in variousAustralian suburbs. However, this rapid growth also presents unique challenges that need to be addressedby both the government and the community itself.
The Top Suburbs for Nepali-born:
Nepali communities in Australia have formed strongbonds, primarily in the following suburbs:
These suburbs have become hubs for Nepali culture, offering a sense of familiarity and community for thosewho have made the journey from Nepal to Australia.From restaurants serving traditional Nepali cuisine tocultural events and festivals, these neighborhoodshave embraced and celebrated their new residents.
While the growth of the Nepali population inAustralia is undoubtedly a positive development, italso brings forth various challenges that need tobe addressed:
1. Legal issues: Australia’s diverse cultural landscapeextends far beyond the surface, encompassing thetriumphs and challenges faced by each community.Among these communities, the Nepali population in Australia is no exception and, like any other, grapples with legal issues that demand attention and action. In particular, issues related to domesticviolence, unconsented sex, and sexual offenses,employment exploitation, underpayment, andworkplace sexual harassment require proactive measures to ensure justice and support for those affected. Initiatives must focus on raising awareness, offering legal education, and providingaccessible resources tailored to the unique needs ofNepali immigrants. By addressing these legalconcerns and fostering a culture of awareness andempowerment, the community can strengthen its resilience and create safer and more equitable environments for all itsmembers within the multicultural society ofAustralia.
2. Mental Health Issues: The process of migration and adjusting to a new culture can be emotionallydemanding. Many Nepali immigrants may strugglewith mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Cultural nuances and language barriers can further complicate access to mental health services. Thus, the availability of culturally sensitive mental health support becomes paramount. Providingresources for counseling, therapy, and mentalhealth education in Nepali languages cansignificantly enhance the community’s well-being.
The Nepali community is facing a growing concern regarding suicide rates. The pressures of migration, adapting to a new culture, and the challenges of integration can take a toll on mental well-being. Therising number of suicides within the Nepalipopulation underscores the urgent need for mental health support and intervention tailored to the community’s specific needs.
3. Child Health Issues and Autism: The Nepali community in Australia has grown significantly overthe years, and with it comes a unique set ofchallenges faced by parents, especially when theirchildren are born with developmental issues likeautism. While Australia has made strides inproviding support for children with developmentaldisorders through the National Disability InsuranceScheme (NDIS), temporary visa holders often findthemselves in a difficult situation, as they are not eligible for NDIS funding. This issue not only places financial strain on families but can also impact their chances of obtaining permanent residency due to health criteria concerns. There is a pressing need for increased awareness and advocacy on this topic within the Nepali community.
child health issues and challenges faced by Nepaliparents in Australia, particularly in cases of autism and developmental disorders, requires a collaborative effort from the community,government, and advocacy groups. Increased awareness and advocacy can lead to policychanges that better support temporary visa holders in accessing the necessary services and ensure that no child’s developmental needs go unmet due to visa status.
4. Visa related Issues: One of the critical challengesfaced by the Nepali community in Australia,particularly those pursuing visas and immigration status, is the prevalence of fraud and misconduct within the migration advice industry. This issue hasresulted in unfortunate consequences, includingindividuals unknowingly becoming unlawfulimmigrants due to misinformation or lack ofknowledge. To address this pressing concern, it isessential for both the Australian government andthe Nepali community to take proactive steps. Thegovernment should invest in educational campaigns targeted at immigrant communities, including theNepali population, to inform them about the risks associated with unlawful migration advice and the importance of using registered and reputablemigration agents/lawyers.
5. Passport Issues: The Nepal Embassy in Australia plays a pivotal role in passport issuance andrenewal for Nepali nationals residing in the country. However, the demand for passport services hassurged in recent years due to the increase inpopulation, outstripping the embassy’s capacity toefficiently process applications. Insufficient staff,lengthy waiting times, and administrative delays have become recurring challenges, leaving many Nepali individuals in a precarious legal situation.
It’s worth noting that the current Ambassador, H.E Mr. Kailash Raj Pokharel, has made commendable efforts to alleviate the passport renewal hardships faced by the Nepali people in recent transactions. His dedication to addressing the issue has provided some relief to the community. However, the problem of limited resources at the embassy persists and requires sustained attention.
6. Employment Issues: Many Nepali immigrants in Australia encounter challenges in securingemployment within their nominated or preferred occupations, often finding themselves compelled to take on basic frontline employment. Despite their qualifications, skills, and aspirations, the realities of the job market may force them into roles that do not align with their professional backgrounds. Thissituation can be frustrating and may not fully utilizetheir potential, highlighting the need for support andinitiatives that help match their qualifications withsuitable employment opportunities.
In terms of occupations, many Nepali immigrants in Australia are engaged in various sectors. The healthcare sector sees a significant presence of Nepali individuals, with many working as nurses, healthcare assistants, and aged care workers. In the field of education, some Nepali immigrants hold positions as teachers, childcare workers, or in educational support roles. Additionally, thehospitality and retail industries also include Nepaliworkers, with roles spanning from restaurant staff and chefs to retail sales associates. In the construction sector, some Nepali immigrants areinvolved as tradespeople, laborers, or in relatedroles. Moreover, jobs in the transportation sector, such as driving taxis or providing rideshare services, are pursued by some members of the Nepali community in Australia.
The Nepali community in Australia can assist its members in finding employment throughnetworking, mentorship programs, and skill development workshops. They can offer resumeand interview preparation support, advocate forforeign qualification recognition, and collaboratewith local organizations. Promotingentrepreneurship and advocating for inclusive hiring practices also play essential roles in helping community members secure employment, fostering their integration into the Australian job market and enhancing their overall well- being.
In conclusion, addressing these challenges requiresa collaborative effort, proactive measures,increased awareness, and policy changes to ensurethat the Nepali community in Australia can thrive and contribute to the multicultural fabric of the nation while enjoying a safe and prosperous life in their adopted homeland. Furthermore, in addressing the challenges faced by the Nepali community inAustralia, it is crucial to highlight the role of theNepal government in providing additional supportand resources through its embassy and diplomaticchannels.