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PIA Press Release

Filipino migrants enjoy growing, glowing reputation in Australia

SYDNEY (6 September) -- Unlike countries teeming with overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Australia is not a typical OFW country. Most of the OFWs in Australia are white collar professionals who are highly respected in their fields of endeavor.

There have been none of the heart-tearing, tragic cases of abuse suffered by many Filipino migrant workers in the hands of their employers in other parts of the world. Not in Australia.

The good news should gladden the heart of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who will grace the Global Filipino Networking Conference here tomorrow (Friday) on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting being hosted by Australia.

"Filipinos in Australia are gainfully employed. They have families and children raised with good education. Very satisfactory ang kanilang relations with their adopted country, mainly because of the passing of the dual citizenship law," Philippine Consul General Ma. Theresa Lazaro said.

Lazaro is now on the third year of her diplomatic posting here.

She said that unlike in other countries, once Filipinos start working Down Under, they are already processed as immigrants.

"You can always apply for permanent residency status and bring your family here. If you're a university student, you can already work for your permanent status after two years," she said.

There are 165,000 Filipinos in Australia, 75,000 of whom are in New South Wales. Ninety percent of the Filipino migrants live in the Greater Sydney area.

The delegates to the Global Filipino Networking Conference are coming from Blacktown in Western Australia which has the biggest concentration of Fil-Aussies.

The Filipino community leaders in Australia who met with President Arroyo during her state visit here last May, decided to hold their convention to coincide with the APEC Conference, Lazaro said.

This is the first time that the international conference of overseas Filipinos is being held outside of the US and the Philippines. Aside from Filipinos living in Australia, Filipino expatriates in other countries are also attending the convention.

"It will have international participation," beamed Lazaro.

She said the President's state visit last May led to a new focus on employment opportunities here for Filipinos, primarily in the agriculture and business sectors.

"Australia needs 200,000 skilled workers until 2015. These include welders for mining companies, IT (information technology) people and many more ground-related jobs because of the mining industry," she said.

Her "visit created a lot of impact," Lazaro added, referring to the President's Australian trip last May.

A testimony to the Filipino's growing and glowing reputation in this part of the world is the fact that a Filipina, Irene Broad, has won a seat in Australia's last federal elections.

The election victory of Broad, who is married to an Australian, sets a precedent in this country's electoral history.

"Irene's victory is big considering that she ran in a place where there is a Filipino population of only five. That's unique. That's mainstream victory. She broke the theory that you have to have a wide base of Pinoys in order to win" an election here, Lazaro said. (OPS) [top]

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