By Natalia Godoy
In 1998, Argentina and Australia collaborated on the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, located in South Sydney. Since the completion of this project the relationship between both countries has maintained its strength, says the Consul-General of Argentina in Sydney Emiliano Waiselfisz.
“To put it simply, the only operating nuclear reactor in Australia was made and designed by Argentinian professionals”, he says proudly.
Today this cooperation continues with the exchange of young professionals, who move between these two countries, looking to develop their skills and live new adventures.
For many Australians, the Argentinean wine industry has motivated them to travel to South America to learn and share their knowledge about the sector, tells Emiliano Waiselfisz, who has been the Consul-General in Sydney for about two years. He adds, “there is also an important exchange of youngsters in Rugby, which is a very popular sport for both countries. Of course, given the collaboration on the nuclear reactor, engineers and professionals continue to work together”.
700 Argentinians choose Australia every year to improve their English through the “Work and Holiday Visa Program (W&H)”. The diplomat says this Australian Government program began with 500 visas for Argentinians to work Down Under, this has now increased to 700 W&H visas.
In the last two years these visas have run out. “Most young Argentinians come to Australia as soon as they finish University, motivated to improve their English. In the first year they would work in different types of jobs and after saving enough money, they would travel around Asia”.
Emiliano Waiselfisz says a small number of those travellers decide to stay longer in Australia, many choose to go back to Argentina, happy with their ‘work and holiday’ experience in Australia. This is one of the reasons why the Argentinian Community has maintained its small presence in Australia. There has been only a few bursts of immigration by Argentines to Australia; in the seventies and at the beginning of the 2000’s.
The Argentinian Council-General estimates the number of expatriated Argentine residents in Australia is around 18 thousand. Most of the community live in Fairfield and Liverpool in Western Sydney. Whereas, Argentine travellers have chosen to base themselves in Manly and Bondi in Sydney, and other smaller groups have gone to the Gold Coast and Perth. “If you add together skilled migration, residents, and even students, none exceed the number of W&H Visas granted to Argentinians. Each year Australia grants around 200 permanent visas to Argentinians, another 200 for students, and about 50 skilled visas, there isn’t a significant number for Sponsored or Defacto/Partner visas. But those numbers are still very small compared to the W&H Visa”, he says.
Despite the small interest by Argentinian professionals to live in Australia, the conditions to migrate are good, hesays. “If Argentinians want to work as a professional here, they have plenty of opportunity. They are culturally very similar to Australians in values, religion and education, more so than some of the other countries that have even closer relations and exchange with Australia”.