Mixed bag today.
Pics of South Sydney – for Trevor
Food for thought
Linked to Ruth Pollard’s story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald
Refugees and asylum seekers
REFUGEES are increasingly settling in regional towns and filling labour market gaps, according to a major study on the impact of the 700,000 refugees accepted into Australian society.
While refugees find it harder than other migrants to gain work in the short term, the situation improves over time.
They are more likely to become business owners and have highly educated children who suffer far lower unemployment rates than the broader Australian community. The University of Adelaide study, commissioned by the federal government, tracked the fate of both refugees and their Australian-born children.
It highlighted that refugees provided a bigger ”demographic dividend” for an ageing population because they are younger than other migrants and a high proportion arrive as children who will go on to work all their lives in Australia.
The report also found refugees are more likely to be helping dwindling rural communities and labour shortages, with one in five refugees moving to regional towns this year, compared to just 11 per cent in 2004…
Since 1978, Australia has accepted 438,000 refugees. The report found they had made a ”distinct contribution as entrepreneurs”, probably because there were more likely than other migrants to be risk-takers and take up opportunities.
Unemployment was found to be ”substantially lower” among refugees who arrived as children.
More than a third (36.5 per cent) of refugees don’t speak English on arrival, creating ”a very significant barrier” to finding work. The phenomenon of ”occupational skidding” – where refugees are unable to find work that matches their skills and qualifications – was blamed on discrimination in the workplace.
The extent to which Australia’s job market can be hostile to migrants was confirmed in a recent Herald/Age investigation of Iraqi interpreters who were evacuated and resettled in Australia in 2008 after working for Australian troops. Only nine of 223 adults reported finding full-time work, even though well over half the group have university or other tertiary qualifications.
The new report concludes: "It cannot be doubted that discrimination in the labour market is still in evidence. The initial years of settlement of humanitarian settlers are often difficult and intensive in the use of government-provided support.”
By 1984 I was back at work, but not in teaching. In travelling about distributing copies of the magazine Neos, within the limits my continuing agoraphobia allowed, I visited a number of bookshops, including a small one, Harkers in Glebe. I got to know the proprietor, a young man who was to be the Liberal Party candidate in the Federal Election that year. I put a proposition to him about an English Teachers’ Book Club, pointing out that thanks to my experience in schools and at the University of Sydney I had good contacts. He bought the idea and employed me to work in the shop six days a week, and to run the Book Club.
The Club really worked, by the way, being the only part of the business that was making a profit by mid 1985, not the proprietor’s fault as he was caught by the floating of the Australian dollar and made a significant loss on the American text books he was importing in quite large quantities for the University and other specialist markets; his profit margins had been cut to the bone to compete with his more established competitors, and though we sold books hand over fist, when it came time to pay for them the drop in the Australian dollar against the greenback took all the profit.
So the business eventually failed, and by that time I could go back to teaching. But I am grateful to Harkers for the experience and the work. The Book Club, or a version of it, though now run by an ex-colleague from Sydney University, continues in modified form as part of Gleebooks and also of St Clair Press.
Thanks to this employment, and to my friend Nina, I moved during 1985 from Glebe to Chippendale. Nina decided she needed a pied-a-terre in Sydney for her theatre and restaurant going, bridge competitions, and Communist Party meetings, so she agreed to share the rent. It was the most luxurious accommodation I had ever had, an enormous two-bedroom apartment in a warehouse conversion in Buckland Street. It had a master bedroom almost as big as the unit I now live in, and a space-age bathroom with spa.
It was also, though I did not know this, very close to a gay bar, known as Beau’s, formerly the Britannia Hotel. As the Britannia it had a formidable reputation. Those who have seen the docudrama Blue Murder will have seen it, as just a few years before it had been the meeting place of Roger Rogerson and Warren Lanfranchi, and it was in a nearby lane that Lanfranchi was gunned down. It’s transformation into a gay venue was something of a wonder with which many of the locals coped very well. The hosts when I first went there were David and Rene; David was about 20 (I’m not joking) and Rene was maybe ten years older, though he didn’t look it.
It was in Beau’s that I first really “came out.” But more of that next time.
The links in that may or may not work!
Point is that in Buckland Street our neighbours in a rather amazing penthouse were couturier Mel Clifford and journalist Alan Mackenzie, a spectacular gay couple indeed. We had never met anyone like them before. This is the Buckland Street apartments:
Today I note an obituary for Mel.
… Melrose Clifford was born on October 21, 1934, in Echuca, Victoria, the youngest of eight children of Walter Clifford and his wife, Daphne Lloyd. He was named after the aviator Jimmy Melrose, who landed his plane nearby in a terrible storm on the night the baby was born, greatly impressing Daphne. At the age of three, Mel decided to go to school with his older brother Gus and also began tap-dancing lessons.
At 14, he completed his leaving certificate and was persuaded by the family to take a job in a bank. The legacy of his year at the bank was exquisite copybook handwriting.
During this time, Madame Bodenwieser’s ballet company came through town and Clifford immediately knew he had discovered the life he would pursue. He fled to Melbourne and at 16, joined the National Ballet school…
He moved to Sydney in 1966 [from the UK] and fell in love with the place. Robert Helpmann became the associate artistic director and Clifford began a fruitful relationship with the great designer Kenneth Rowell. Then he began to work for the Australian Opera and designed the costumes for Turandot.
At that time, Sheila Scotter was the editor of Australian Vogue and was on the board of the opera company. Knowing of Clifford’s interest in fashion, she proposed that he design and make evenings dresses for six singers in the company, which she would feature in Vogue.
The Vogue spread was so successful, it led to another major change in his life. He returned to fashion full time and began running his own business.
For the next 35 years, he concentrated on designing and making clothes for the best-dressed women in Sydney. As well as the cricket uniforms for Packer, he designed a tennis and golf range…
Rather amazing life.