“Bhutan has been one of the most successful countries in winning Australian awards and endeavor scholarships. They are entirely based on merit. It is a global program, anybody can apply. Bhutanese win is a sign of high quality of Bhutanese students because they have to compete with the world”
Business Bhutan reporter Dechen Dolkar talks to Ambassador of Australia to Bhutan, Her Excellency Ms. Harinder Sidhu as the Bhutan-Australia friendship offer is launched on the close ties of friendship and mutual benefits the two countries share.
1.What kind of jobs can Bhutanese avail in Australia?
Answer: Most of the Bhutanese go o Australia to study and under the Australian student visa they are able to work up to about 22 hours a week. If they bring their spouse with them, their spouse also can work full time. There is no restriction on what either of them can do in terms of the work they do. For instance, if their spouse is a school teacher and get their qualification recognized, they can work in schools. There is a range of jobs and there are many per time job as well that students often take. It is very common in Australia for students to work in shops and small businesses because it is more flexible-they can work around and flex their studies.
2.How many Bhutanese are studying in Australia?
Answer: At the moment there are around 1,450 Bhutanese currently studying in Australia. However, there are no exact records of Bhutanese working and living at Australia. There is a Bhutanese community that has gone to settle in Australia and they make wonderful contribution in our country. They work in all kind of sectors.
3. Is there a minimum wage rate for Bhutanese?
Answer: Well, the Australian government does not set wage rate but it does say that there is a minimum wage rate so that people are not exploited and not paid too little. However the actual wages that people get paid varies from one industry to another. It depends on what job they do. They average wage in Australia is 50,000 to 60,000 Australian dollar in a year. The cost of living in Australia is also high.
4. What is the Australian government doing for the welfare of Bhutanese workers?
Answer: If you go to work or study in Australia, you are protected by the same law as anybody else who is working or studying. For example, your safety is determined by law and order. Australia is a very safe place. You cannot pay below certain rate; you must be given certain amount of time off.
5. Does Australia provide any special considerations to Bhutanese worker?
Answer: There is no particular consideration. We have Bhutanese workers there but they are not often under government program. They are just there independently; they are on their own through the private sector and make their own arrangements. Unlike in Bhutan, the Australian government plays a very small role. We don’t manage a lot of economy; we leave a lot to private sector. The role of the Australian government is to create rules to make sure that the private sector works in a way that is ethical and maintains standard. Beyond that it is left to the market.
We have big demand in people for skilled workers like plumbers, carpenters and electricians. These jobs are very highly paid because they require very special skills. Not all Australians have them but the government does not set the wage rate, the market sets the rate because they are in high demand. We protect Bhutanese workers by making sure that their wage is reasonable.
6. Can you talk briefly on the scholarships that the Australian government offers to the Bhutanese?
Answer: The Australian government is going to offer a total of 43 scholarships: 28 Australian awards and and 15 endeavor awards for 2018. We have been offering scholarships for Bhutan for many years and are fortunate to have many Bhutanese. Bhutan has been one of the most successful countries in wining Australian awards and endeavor scholarships. They are entirely based on merit. It is a global program, anybody can apply. Bhutanese win is a sign of high quality of Bhutanese students because they have to compete with the world. So far around 1,400 scholarships were offered to the Bhutanese.