Finding a lifestyle where he and his wife and son would have the chance to grow and follow their dreams was one of the major motivators for Iranian-born Ali Habibi Nekoo when the family moved to Australia.
“Pursuing a better life for my family in a more relaxed modern stable country with freedom for me, my wife and our son, a place that you are not forced to follow a religion and my wife is not forced to wear a Hijab,” he explained.
Arriving in Dubbo in October 2017 on a 489 sponsored skilled regional visa, Mr Nekoo quickly absorbed the local lifestyle.
“When I was moving to the regional area, I thought that it would be really hard to find a job here, but I soon found out that I was wrong. I started working in the very first week that I arrived in Dubbo. It might be because I was willing to do every kind of job.”
Originally an agricultural scientist with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering, Mr Nekoo is now working in disability services as a residential support worker at Westhaven Dubbo.
While he misses his family back in Iran, Mr Nekoo says that immigration to a country like Australia has many positive aspects.
Having a stress-free lifestyle, a stable income, the chance to save money, healthy food and being able to go swimming with his wife are among the factors of enjoying their new lives.
“There is one thing I know for sure, and that is we are a lot happier here, especially in this quite friendly city. We have a lot more time to spend together and we are enjoying every second of it.”
Mr Nekoo, who also speaks Farsi (Persian), says that he and his wife Elnaz Rahbar Haghighi and son Ryan Habibi Nekoo have settled in well to life in Australia.
“I have had a chance to work in a job that has helped me learn a lot about Australian life very quickly.
“We have easily settled, found jobs and we are trying to learn more and more about it.”
So far, the family has learnt about Australian cuisine and culture, including popular sports, entertainment, national days and celebrations along with elements of history.
Mr Nekoo said that receiving guidance and assistance during the migration process would also be helpful, particularly in the areas of employment and accommodation.
“RDA Orana has already been really helpful by giving us a letter that gave vivid information about our visa to real estate agents and employers, this letter helped me substantially in finding a place and job, and I know many more who used these letters.
“In addition, I believe that informing employers about the pathway of our visa would be really helpful.”
“I would let them know that our visa is a pathway to permanency. At this moment most employers assume we are like working holiday visa holders. They indicate that they need someone who would stay with them for longer, so they usually reject applications before we have a chance to prove that our visa is different. It has not actually happened to me because Westhaven knew about our visa but it has happened to many others I know.”
Mr Nekoo’s advice to other migrants undertaking this process includes improving English language skills because it plays a vital role in settling and finding a job. Moving to a regional location such as Dubbo also provided many benefits.
“Do not be afraid of moving to regional areas, it is easier to find a job as there are less job applicants, therefore less competition, and cost of living and entertainment is considerably lower so you can easily settle down.”
The Nekoo family has really immersed themselves into local life and their activities include soccer and music.
“Westhaven has given us fitness passports which allow us to use most sport facilities for free. We have joined the RSL Aquatic Leisure Centre and take our son there at least twice a week. I have gathered some Iranian and Aussie friends and made a soccer team, we play indoor soccer every Wednesday at Dubbo Sportsworld and Sundays at Sandy Beach. We also do Saturday Parkrun as a family each week.
“I have purchased a piano and I have been doing a piano course at Macquarie Conservatorium for two terms with the aim of passing the second grade of the Australian Music Examinations Board in August.”
Mr Nekoo, whose uncle also lives in Australia, aims to remain in the Orana region in order to fulfill his ambitions.
“I have many goals about my job and music, but I am mostly concentrating on settling down and creating a calm situation for my family to grow.
“We are thinking about having more children, so the first goal for us is buying a house as soon as possible so that we can settle down and let the kids grow in a warm stress-free home.”
“My second priority is finding a job related to my field of study and establishing my own business in agriculture.”
The family is now concentrating on achieving permanent residency and remaining in the Dubbo area.
“We love Dubbo; we have found many friends here, it is an affordable city with no traffic, nice people, enough entertainment for us, and it is also possible for us to buy a nice place in Southlakes with the view of the lake, which has been our dream for years. We have good jobs here with good salaries and benefits. I do believe that if things go the way it has gone we do not need to move again. We are finally feeling safe, happy and satisfied.”
Name: Ali Habibi Nekoo
Occupation: Agricultural scientist
Country of origin: Iran
Here with: family
Length of time in region: since October 2017