EducationPro coming to the rescue even if unsustainable
It has been exactly two months since Namgay and her partner arrived in Australia. The couple, both on student visas, are still crashing in with their relatives who have rented a three-bedroom flat. All together, there are five people in the apartment.
Namgay is still looking for a house to move in. But the chances are minimal. Without work and therefore, a pay slip, a requirement when looking for a house, the odds are all stacked against the couple. “We have to first find a job and then the chances will increase,” said Namgay in an online interview.
Namgay considers herself lucky because of the free accommodation with her relatives. There are hundreds of Bhutanese in Perth, Western Australia and also in other states, who for months had been hunting for a flat. Many are unlucky.
Finding a house in Australia, especially in Perth where the floating population of Bhutanese is 15,000 to 17,000, is an uphill task. It is not only Bhutanese looking for houses. There are thousands of other nationalities who arrived in Perth after the Covid-19 pandemic, according to those who are well-settled in the city. “There is an acute shortage of housing in Perth and the competition is tough.”
A notification from the Royal Bhutan Embassy in Canberra yesterday stated that there is a rental crisis growing in Australia in the past year which has become more acute in the past few months, particularly in Perth. The crisis is attributed to returning international students and increasing migration after the Covid-19 pandemic. For Perth, it is the migration of people from other states in Australia to Perth and not having enough rental properties to match the demand.
EducationPro to the rescue?
However, much to the relief of hundreds of Bhutanese in Perth, the Kingston International College and EducationPro office is arranging a short-term accommodation service. The Managing Director of Kingston College, Tandin Dorji, told Kuensel that his firm leased a hotel in the city to help Bhutanese with short-term accommodation.
While the details are being worked out, the hotel with a capacity of 130 people is overwhelmed with applicants. 476 Bhutanese applied as of yesterday afternoon. Many are still applying for a room which will cost AUD 150 a week (about Nu 8,250), a fair deal many say given the shortage.
The hotel in the central business district (CBD) of Perth city has 53 rooms which charge between AUD 150 to 160 a night. Tandin Dorji said that priority will be given to new arrivals in Perth, those without dependents, students without scholarships or paying higher tuition fees.
The hotel is located within walking distance from bus terminals and train stations to help those without cars to move around. The MD is in talks with municipal authorities to secure parking space at the CBD to rent parking space at reasonable costs.
Not another business
Tandin Dorji said that many Bhutanese thought the arrangement was another business of EducationPro and Kingston College. “The primary aim is to help our fellow Bhutanese,” he said. “If it is a business, I will have to charge at least AUD 250 to 300 a week as my partners are insisting. I am only helping and this will incur a loss as the hotel is leased,” he added.
A Perth resident said that the rates are reasonable when informed about the service. Her host pays AUD 270 a week for the two-bedroom flat located five train stops from her university, Murdoch.
Rajesh Rai who arrived in Perth two weeks ago said that such arrangements would be helpful to those who have no one in the city. “It’ll definitely ease the burden on students because otherwise, they will have to study as well as look for an accommodation which takes some time,” the former Kuensel correspondent said.
The accommodation, meanwhile, is open to all Bhutanese and not only to those who came through EducationPro. Those staying in the hotel could cook (only on electric appliances) to reduce the burden of cost. Tandin Dorji who gave up a farming business idea to venture into the service is also looking for other facilities (hotels) to help more Bhutanese.
Corroborating the notice from the Embassy in Canberra, Tandin Dorji said that there is an acute shortage of houses in Perth, “While there are many, not all are in the budget plan of Bhutanese,” he said. “At every property inspection, you will see a lot of Bhutanese. But this is only for affordable housing which many other nationalities are rushing for.”
Bhutanese trick of sharing flats or rooms, one said, is not working in Perth. “They are strict and it is inconvenient to hide all the belongings when properties are inspected,” she said.
A secure job is one of the tickets to getting a house. But with the increase in immigration from all over the world to Australia is leading to a shortage of jobs too. “If you have work, you get a house,” said Namgay who is getting trained to be an old age caregiver.
Jobs, meanwhile, are also getting scarce, according to Tandin Dorji who is planning to help Bhutanese find jobs in the mining sector. “There are about 700 openings (vacancies) in the 18 mining companies in rural Perth,” according to Tandin Dorji. “We are training Bhutanese to send them to the mining companies.”
The Bhutanese, if willing to take up, will fly in and fly out – meaning they will work for two weeks at the mining sites and come back for a week. “Job openings are limited,” a recent arrival in Perth said. “Everywhere we go we see migrants at work. Hope it is worth coming here.”
A word of caution
The notification from the Embassy in Canberra recommends Bhutanese come to Australia to arrange housing with universities or consultancies. Tandin Dorji is discouraging Bhutanese from sending their children to pursue undergraduate or diploma courses unless they are financially sound. “Having to pay college fees, housing and not getting jobs or limited jobs, young Bhutanese could struggle,” he said. “If you have taken loans and depend on the student to make money, it is a big challenge.”
A few Bhutanese have decided to leave Australia after finding that the green pastures are not as lush as expected.
“Too many people are coming to Australia from all over the world at one time and this is resulting in a shortage of jobs and housing,” said one.