‘I HAVE RE­PLACED FAM­ILY WITH FRIENDS’

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEA­TURES -

The cou­ple ini­tially lived in Chig­well, be­fore de­cid­ing in 1998 to head for Mel­bourne, Dion’s home town.

Wise, who now has two daugh­ters, aged four and two-and-a-half, ex­plains her de­ci­sion: “Af­ter a con­ver­sa­tion with my cousins who were con­sid­er­ing go­ing to live abroad, I told Dion I didn’t want to wake up in 20 years and think, ‘I won­der what it would have been like to live in Aus­tralia’. At the time, we had great jobs, owned our own home, had great friends and fam­ily around us, so it would have been so easy to stay, but I kept think­ing that if we were go­ing to go we had to do it be­fore we had chil­dren. I don’t think I could have taken grand­chil­dren away from my par­ents.”

A teacher at Bia­lik School, one of Mel­bourne’s lead­ing Jewish schools, Wise be­lieves she set­tled more quickly be­cause she had a job to walk into and a ready-made fam­ily. “I’d been com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the school for a while, and a day af­ter my plane landed I had an in­ter­view. I started work about three weeks af­ter and made some re­ally fan­tas­tic friends who are among my clos­est and most val­ued to­day.

“Dion’s fam­ily were so un­der­stand­ing and com­pas­sion­ate, and they for­gave me ev­ery time I said, ‘Oh at home

ONE ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence with mak­ing aliyah to Is­rael is the dis­tance. Whereas you can fly from Bri­tain to Tel Aviv for a com­par­a­tively af­ford­able £160 re­turn, on a mere five­hour hop, a re­turn ticket to Aus­tralia runs to al­most £1,000 and the flight is 23 hours. we do it this way’. Also, my mum’s cousin moved here about 25 years ago, so I had cousins of my own who in­cluded me in ev­ery­thing. They have been a real sup­port. Af­ter the ini­tial cul­ture shock wore off, I started to feel very set­tled. In­deed, af­ter six months I said that I’d never go back to live in Lon­don again.”

Apart from the ob­vi­ous at­trac­tion of her hus­band, who owns a graphic- Un­like Is­rael, week­end vis­its are out.

Jayne Wise says the hard­est part of go­ing, pre­dictably, was leav­ing her close fam­ily in the UK. “It was aw­ful, but thank good­ness for cheap phone lines and web cam­eras. In a way, I have re­placed my fam­ily with friends. As there is such a huge im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tion here, es­pe­cially from the UK and South Africa, we tend to call on each other when you would call your mum for ad­vice, to babysit, etc… I do feel like I miss out when there’s a fam­ily sim­chah or be­reave­ment.” and web-de­sign com­pany, Wise finds much else to like about Aus­tralia: “It’s very laid back here. Mel­bourne, par­tic­u­larly, is a won­der­ful place to bring up chil­dren. We have beau­ti­ful parks on ev­ery other cor­ner with well-main­tained play equip­ment. Cof­fee shops and restau­rants have colour­ing books, pa­per, crayons and they in­vented the baby-cino — frothy milk with cho­co­late pow­der — to keep the lit­tle ones happy while the par­ents drink their lat­tes, espres­sos or what­ever. Mel­bourne has a great out­door life­style. We of­ten head down to the beach for a swim around 6pm. Af­ter work a few days ago, I fed the chil­dren, popped them in the pram and went for a three­k­ilo­me­tre walk to the park where we met Dion, had a quick play and we all walked home again. You can do that here as the weather is so good.”

Jewish life is strong, too. Bia­lik, where Wise teaches, is one of 11 Jewish schools in Mel­bourne, and one of 24 in Aus­tralia (nine of them in Syd­ney), in a coun­try with a to­tal Jewish pop­u­la­tion, of­fi­cially, of 98,000.

Pauline Nel and her South African- born hus­band, Louis, met in Is­rael al­most 15 years ago and lived there for a year. But while they loved the coun­try, they have de­cided that Aus­tralia is where they want to make a new life with their son Jan­nie, four, and daugh­ter, Mia, two. They are mov­ing to Syd­ney later this year.

They first vis­ited Aus­tralia just over a year ago for a hol­i­day, but also for what Pauline calls “a bit of a recce to see whether it was some­where we could live. We vis­ited Syd­ney, Ade­laide and Mel­bourne to get an overview of each city. Louis grew up with a very out­doors life­style. In ad­di­tion we lived in Is­rael in 1995 and spent a year in Sin­ga­pore, so I sup­pose we have al­ways known that Eng­land is not the only place to live your life. In 2005, Louis was of­fered a role in South Africa but ul­ti­mately we re­alised it was not sta­ble enough. We then started to think about other op­tions.”

Nel, 35, a com­pany di­rec­tor with a back­ground in hu­man re­sources, said the tough­est as­pect has been the im­mi­gra­tion process, which she de­scribes as “a very long, ar­du­ous process”.

She hopes the set­tling in will be made eas­ier by the fact that her brother, Martin Kelly, is al­ready in Syd­ney, and their par­ents are cur­rently ap­ply­ing for visas to join them.

“When we were in Syd­ney in March 2007, we spent all our time with Martin who showed us around and gave us an in­sight to the Aussie way of life. He was very hon­est and said that not hav­ing close fam­ily around was the hard­est part about be­ing in Oz.”

Apart from the out­door life and the cli­mate, it is the work-life bal­ance which es­pe­cially ap­peals to Nel. “Work is just one part of your life. When you are fin­ished, you go home and spend time with your fam­ily or do other ac­tiv­i­ties. Also, the fa­cil­i­ties there are much more af­ford­able — you can go out for the day with­out spend­ing a for­tune, and there are beaches, moun­tains, parks, pub­lic bar­be­cues you can use.”

She is also prag­matic about the fu­ture: “I’m un­der no il­lu­sions of us be­ing fi­nan­cially bet­ter off, but I do be­lieve our qual­ity of life will be richer.”

Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Dan Gold­berg

Jayne Wise with her Aus­tralian hus­band Dion and daugh­ters Amalia and Mayani. Right: Pauline and Louis Nel with Mia and Jan­nie

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