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by Dr. Dave Robinson
A column about little things that are deceptively similar, yet decisively different. Read and be prepared.
No Razor Wire
When I first decided to come to Australia and finally received notification of permanent residency status, I realised that I would, for the first time, have to promote myself in the job market. Amongst others I discovered as website called SEEK.com. I eagerly uploaded my CV and waited for someone in Australia to offer me a job. It didn't happen. ‘Maybe the website isn't fully operational yet' I consoled myself, ‘Surely they want me there!' Months later, still nothing, so I got on a plane and came here. It was September 2002. In two weeks I visited every university I could get access to and returned to SA with the promise of a job, starting 2nd January 2003.
I bade farewell to my family on New Year's Eve and duly arrived down under with $184 in my pocket. By 10am January 2nd I had registered for tax with the ATO, and at 11am sat down in my new boss's office. I had left SA and was dependent on him keeping his promise to employ me. There was, at that stage, no contract. He told me I could assist one of the part-time contracted lecturers for the first two months and after that he would see if I would get my own class. If I was really good I might get two, three or four classes a week!

It's now six years on and thirty years almost to the day that I was headhunted by a firm in Johannesburg and moved from Port Elizabeth to the big city. Straight after completing my first degree, before I'd officially even graduated, I got given a company car and a nice office and had access to secretarial assistance. I shared a mansion in Houghton with a guy who photographed models for a living; and, needless to say, also for fun. I never actually had to apply for a job in South Africa. Every time I moved it was because I knew someone who knew someone who needed someone like me.

Reflecting on those years makes me wonder if I've done something wrong - why I don't drive a company car and have a secretary. I notice my son's friends seem to have no problem finding well-paying jobs. Apparently twenty-two year olds are infinitely more desirable as employees than fifty-two year olds. I find this strange because, as far as I can tell, I have thirty years more wisdom and not a lot less energy. So, could it be something to do with the fact that when you come to a new country you have to prove yourself all over again?

I know many South African friends who are in the same boat. But we seem to be endlessly self-reliant. It is unlikely that we will fit neatly into one of the little boxes that collectively define and surreptitiously control Australian society. But then that isn't really what we came here for, is it? There's something paradoxical about taking a risk in the hope of gaining security. We are an entrepreneurial nation and seem compelled make our uniquely South African contributions in whatever pursuits we find ourselves active in our new homeland. At least we no longer have to live behind razor wire.

Dr. Dave Robinson is Principal Consultant for the Academy of Business Acumen and Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Bond University, an entrepreneur, director of companies, consultant to business, author of books and academic research publications, amateur musician, lifelong surfer and award-winning poet.
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Posted by Dr. Dave Robinson
19 Dec 2008

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Its crap like this that is really messing up SA!!..Let me tell you Ubuntu, I'm black, darm yes, black like you, but you are a darn fool to continue with such rubbish!!. Aparthied happened, get over it!! move on Man!!! build a life for yourself instead of hurling insults are every white person you come across!! In Australia, it has NOTHING to do with your skin color, you first need to have AUSSY experience to be then qualified for a job there!....If you want to live in Houghton, then do so and leave the everyone else alone with your childish words. Dude, really, have you ever and I mean ever lived overseas????, cause there's so many Black south africans who have NEVER crossed the border, thats why you are so ignorant. In all of the worlds histories, there's been salvery, hardships on other people of different colors and religions, but THIS needs to stop.. Why do you HATE a person you never met??...With your type of attitude, you had better STAY in SA and not board a plane for ANY country!!!! You talk about Ghetto living, well right now, you are showing us what GHETTO is!!!!..Damn get a life!! You are a shame to my skin color!!!! and P.S for your info TONS of black south africans are ALSO heading for Australia and as well experience the same problems!! And Dave, hats off to you, great article!!!!
Rating: 4 / 5
by Cindy on 18 May 2009

I know where you are coming from. I have been here 18 months now. My 1st job the company went bung and after 7 months found myself out of work again. I am still unemployed, I have joined 7 employment agencies, check seek everyday, send off approx 2 - 4 applications a day. I have been for 8 interviews. I don't know if it is my age 55 or that I'm an immigrant with the current economic turndown. I have a good CV and been a PA, secretary, receptionist and experienced in estate agency. I really don't know what else to do, hopefully someday, someone out there will need my services !!!
Rating: 3 / 5
by Wendy Nienaber on 22 Apr 2009

Sometimes having a comments facility like this just gives people like Ubuntu another soapbox from which to spew anti-white and racist sentiment, yes Ubuntu as a black person you too can be a racist. We have all finally come to a country where the colour of your skin means less than the experience you have, is that not what we all want. Ubuntu stop your drivel, you will never get anywhere in this country with your disgusting attitude.
Rating: 3 / 5
by Craig on 19 Feb 2009

Ubuntu.... Get that chip off your shoulder and read the article again. Apartheid finished a long time ago... move on MATE - I can assure you not getting a job here has nothing to do with Australian justice - it is the same whether you come from Europe or the US. If you don't have Australian experience, it is always more difficult to get your foot in the door when you first arrive here. If you had actually noticed at the end of Dr Robinson's article you can see he has obviously been very successful here too - and in only 6 years in a new country. In closing let me just comment - it is actually YOU who is part of the problem by perpetuating this outdated view of South Africa.
Rating: 3 / 5
by Cherry Sewell on 15 Jan 2009

This article is indicative of the preveledge lifestyle white south africans enjoyed while their other South African citizens lived in squalor and poverty created by this preveledge others enjoyed. In Apartheid South Africa it was a constant struggle for us black people to find a job. Not so for Dave Robinson who was always given a car, a secretary and an office and never had to struggle because of the colour of his skin! It is precisely this preveledged position that has now made it necessary to live under razor wire. The haves in SA STILL have and are not about to give or share in the spoils of their ill gotten apartheid gains and as a result have to live under razor wire to protect their prized posessions obtained on the back of the black people of SA. Those who enjoyed the fruits of Apartheid MUST take responsibility for the crime situation that South Africa now has to deal with. The Apartheid governemnt left the coffers of the country DRY in 1994. The economy was in negative growth of -2!! It was the Apartheid system and those who collabarated with it that has created this situation. They systematically and specifically disadvantaging Black South Africans through sub standard education, menial jobs, terrible ghetto living conditons(unlike living in Houghton), non existent Health Care, daily abusive degradation of ones self worth of our fathers, mothers and children. It is very interesting to hear about how you struggled when you came to Australia but WELCOME to the REAL WORLD MATE!! You have to compete in the market place without being propped up by a racist system that supported you over everyone else just because you are white! This cynical, anti democratic South Africa sentiment in your editorial ~ almost a twist in the tale of your editorial~ speaks volumes about your bitterness. This is what gives white South Africans a bad name in Australia and why they are generally disliked., They point fingers at SA today and try to justify apartheid the unjustifiable. They feel the world owes them a favour and that they are being so hard done by. They come to Australia and complain about it but it really reveals who they are. Fortunately Australians have a sense of justice and can very clearly see the whinger who has lost his preveledge and now has to compete in the real world. GET USE TO IT MATE! STOP complaining and start making ammends for your questionable past by assisting in the development of Africa as you are very much a part of the problem and NEVER part of the solution!
Rating: 1 / 5
by Ubuntu on 06 Jan 2009

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