Thursday, 19 November 2015

Tumultuous two

I've had six jobs, been fired from one, quit without notice from another, and walked out on one in disgust.

We've had two places of residence. One of which is our own.

I've bought two motorbikes, one of which I've sold, and two more pushbikes.

Motorbiked the Great Ocean Road in one day. Rode the Australian Alpine Epic and Mt Buller downhill tracks.

Owned two cars (one sold), and a 4WD, which may well be sold today, if I can accept a hefty loss.

Many acquaintances made, and a very small handful I'd call true friends. Two more, whom we no longer call friends.

Mountains climbed, rivers and deserts crossed, swam in surf, with seals, and dolphins.

Joined the local fire brigade as a volunteer firefighter,

Attended two weddings and one funeral.

Two years since we first called Australia home. We will know no other.


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Response to query from Zg

Hi there,

My name is Z, i have been reading and loving your blogs. Not only its resourceful, its also encouraging. 
For the same reason, i too have planned to migrate to Australia. I am doing it not only for me, but for my children too(aged 9 & 8). Hated the school system here!!! Pitied my children...not to mention rising numbers of students commiting suicide due to stress. 
Unfortunately, i am unable to pursue my dreams so soon as i have bought a BTO flat 3years back which will be ready in a month or two. To make matters worst, i can only sell the house 5 years later. I cant back out too or i will have to pay back eveything in cold hard cash!!! What a luck!! 

Now i need an advise or two you and hope you are able to assist me.

1) do you reckon i apply my PR on my third year or fourth year before selling my house in the fifth year?
2) i am a single mom, is it easy to apply PR for them too? Is the education there far way better?

I grew up in a negative, and rigid minded siblings and parents which i hated. I am so different from them all...making it short, i was given away when i was young and thus the difference between me and my real family. They are sure never to support my decisions and will think my plan is never gonna work out and i am going to prove them wrong. I will make it happen and sigh!! Only five years later!!

I am going to do some research, study before the day comes. Is there any advise that you could give on how or what should i take note of and etc?

Hope to hear from you soon!

Warmest regards,

Hi Z,

Thanks for your compliments. Many who migrate here do it primarily for their children. Those who have kids, that is.

Let me offer my 2c on your situation. I am not gonna update myself on the relevant rules and regulations from either country, so please do your due diligence and take what I'll say with a pinch of salt.

1. The sooner you apply, the more points you have (due to age). If your skill is on the SOL right now, don't delay. Remember, you can seal the deal by landing in Oz, pass the immigration, and get back on the first plane to Sg. But you may wish to spend a bit more time to reccee the place and do more research on the ground since you visited Oz to validate your PR.

Remember that to automatically qualify for the Returning Residency Visa (informally also called 'renewing your PR'), you need to spend a cumulative two years in Oz within your first five years of PR-ship. I'm sure you will figure how to manage your time.

If you were to work and live in Oz and someone else stays in your HDB during the period, I reckon you will be able to clock your MOP. Basically MOP means that you shouldn't rent out your HDB LEGALLY to someone else. Apparently you could, but that will effectively extend your MOP. I leave how you will clock your MOP to your imagination, but trust that I have got you thinking of some other creative ways around it. Or just leave the flat empty.

2. You being a single mum is unlikely to have any bearing on PR. I can't comment on education here, but A Singaporean in Australia seems to have more to say on that. Check out his blog.

My TAFE was a little shitty, but it got me my job. Generally there is less of a culture of excellence in Oz, especially in administrative and educational fields. Part of the package. You get less stress here too. Choose your poison.

Since you read our blog and didn't really seem to ask irrelevant questions, I reckon you're on the right track. Just ensure your skill is on the SOL, or if not, get cracking asap. Also do check out burn and drink DIBP's website and the more popular migration blog - A Singaporean in Australia. Also read the website of your skills assessment authority. E.g AITSL if you are/wanna become a teacher, Engineers Australia if you are an engineer, or VETASSESS if you are in one of the many occupations assessed by them.

There is no shame in engaging a migration agent if you need one. A's case was clear cut and she's mighty detailed, so we managed relatively ok without one. I can't recommend any migration agents though, and those agents who keep trying to advertise in the comments sections, kindly get fucked :). Unless you want to negotiate an advertising fee first.

- S

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Upcoming articles... Need your inputs, dear readers!

Hi everyone,

It's been awhile, and I know that while there are a handful of friends and family who do check in to our blog to get updates, those have been far and few between (I'm referring to the blog updates).

Having worked as a mechanic for close to a year now, I feel that I can share some insights into car buying and DIY car maintenance. There's no need to re-invent the wheel - what I plan to do is grab some good guides and reference (by linking, not copy & paste!!) them, and add my own bits and pieces tailoring them to the complete novice who wants to get their hands dirty, without stuffing up (Aussie polite version of "fucking up") their primary mode of transport.

Yeah I've had moments like this before...

Having bought three vehicles in Australia by now, and having sold two of them, I will offer my insights into buying and selling as well. I'm no expert, and I've made mistakes. Mostly mistakes, in fact. Learn from mine.

But really, what else do you guys want to know or read about? Talk to us. Blogging is a two-way street.. And if it's not working out, perhaps it's time to retire this blog.

After all, while we are still Singapore Citizens for the time being, neither of us both feel Singaporean in the least. As I've told people before:

We are from Singapore, but we are not of Singapore


"Singaporean" is a state of mind

I must qualify that we don't feel "Aussie" either. But that doesn't matter to anyone that we've met thus far.


On the warpath, part II

If you've missed my first 'missile' fired off to the wrong Ombudsman, take note, the ombudsman I really should have addressed my complaint to in the first place, was the Fair Work Ombudsman.

I'm not sure how much trouble this dodgy cunt will get into as a result of this. Possibly none at all. But my next email will be to the VACC, of which he's a member. Then again, are many workshops like this? I don't know.. But certainly it isn't the case at my current workplace, a major dealership in Melbourne.

Me fitting (or perhaps removing) a tyre during my earlier days at the former workplace. 

My former employer has almost always paid me late, on average by three days or so. Paydays are officially Thursdays, but frequently I would get my pay by the following Monday or later, usually after repeated reminders both via text messages and in person while at work. My phone records, payslips and bank statements will corroborate these allegations.

There are times when I have received my pay as late as one week late, leading to various cash flow issues at my end. Not once has there been an apology, nor does it really matter as I believe it is an employer's legal obligation to pay their employees in a timely manner.

Payslips only started arriving in December last year, and these too, have usually been tardy. I have recalled at most two occasions in my nine months of employment that I have received a payslip on time. Usually, the late pay is a bigger buggeration.

I had a verbal agreement with my former employer that he would help me set up a Super Account with MTAA. He provided me the official form which I duly filled in and handed in to him some time in July or August 2014, which was at least a month after I started my employment at ______. He claimed verbally that he had submitted the form electronically and I left it at that. I would ask for updates every fortnight or so and hear the same reply.

In November 2014, I called MTAA and they had no record of any form submission and thus had no account under my name. I took matters into my own hands and submitted the form via hard copy, registered post, and my MTAA account was online in less than a week. It was around then that my original form surfaced 'magically', but I decided not to call my former employer "a liar" to his face, though I could guess the truth.

This was six months after I had started employment and by right, I should have had two super payouts by then. I had to chase further for my Super, and only got payment in the form of bank transfer, in FEBRUARY 2015.

Since I left without notice on 13 April 2015, I have not received the remainder of my Super owed to me, which is approximately $180. Instead, my former employer claimed that he does not have to pay, as I left without giving him notice. The kicker though, is that I never had a contract drafted by him. Thus while I am aware that the general industry practice is two weeks notice, I refused to give him notice as I didn't wish to have to chase for my wages while trying to settle in at my current employment.

Now, I am earning more than double what I used to, and the $180 owed whilst not terribly significant, is a matter of principle. Both my former supervisors at _______ are/were regularly paid late, and my first supervisor had to return to _______ to collect his outstanding Super in person after he had quit, as my employer never paid him his dues.

I'm not sure such flagrant disregard of employee rights is condonable. The thing that gets me about this whole debacle is my former employer's apparent nonchalance when reminded of his debts. I hope he can be taken to task and I will be willing to testify if any legal action is to be taken against him.

I'll still have to print the whole form out, sign it, and mail it to South Australia where Fair Work is based. So you guys in sg, count yourselves lucky in this regard, perhaps. You may not have much in the way of workers' rights, but at least when it comes to getting things done, it's convenient.

In my next post, I will be talking about The Green Home, where some 'inconvenient'-to-fit auto components end up, if a mechanic is dishonest/incompetent/lazy enough. Do you know if your mechanic is honest or competent?


Friday, 27 February 2015

One way of dealing with traffic summonses in Victoria

I saw this account of opting for a court hearing for a traffic summons posted by a Facebook friend in Melbourne, and thought it worth sharing with our readers, with his permission:

This is my first time in my life going to a magistrate court and defended myself against a charge laid on me by the police with a 3 demerit points for driving and a $450 fine. 
The incident happened last year when I was turning right on a traffic light. I was booked by a police car which trailed behind me and the two policemen claimed that I made the right turn on a red light. I protested that the light was amber when my car was turning right but to no avail and had to go to court to defend myself.
Today, in the court session, there were rows of people in front of me where their case is being heard by the judge. I must thank the court sessions as I begin to pick up the lingos and mannerism from observing the defendants and lawyers how they present before the judge. At the same time, I made observations about the judge’s attitude towards certain behaviour. 
For example, the judge is very strict with regards to drink drivers and people who are absent from court session. In one of the cases, the lawyer was present but the defendant was missing. The lawyer apologised on behalf of the defendant who didn’t turned up but the judge immediately issued a warrant of arrest and adjourns the case. 
However, the judge is sympathetic towards individuals who plead their case and show remorse for their behaviour. For example, some people lost their job and in their stressful moments, committed petty crimes in shopping malls. They are sorry for what they did and the judge made them do community work instead of jail time. 
One of the funniest cases I heard today was about a pillow fight between two girls. The victim complained to the judge that she was deeply insulted by the bully and her pillow was destroyed. The judge ordered the bully girl to write a letter of apology and pay the damage pillow worth $30!
When it came to my turn, I stood before the judge and the short conversation goes like this:
Judge: Do you have a lawyer to represent you?
Me: No, Your Honour, I will represent myself.
Judge: You can get legal aid if you wish.
Me: Yes Sir, I know the free legal services but there is a waiting period for it and thus I will represent myself.
The Prosecutor then begins to read my charges before the Judge.
Judge: (to me) what do you have to say?
Me: Your Honour, in the light of the circumstances surrounding that day, I may have made an error judgement and therefore plead guilty. However, I would like to present to the court, my side of my story during that day when I made the right turn at the traffic light. { I begin to elaborate a bit to the judge how I believed it was amber light and I had to made the turn as my car has already cross the white line and I just had to complete the turn }
Judge to Prosecutor: What are his criminal records?
Prosecutor: Clean, your Honour!
Me: Your Honour, I would like the court to consider waiving off my demerits points as well as my fines.
Judge to Prosecutor: What are his penalties?
Prosecutor: Your Honour, 3 demerits point and $450 fine.
Judge looked at my file and begin to question me how long have I got my driving licence, my family background, my work background etc and pause a while..
Judge to me: Given that you made an earlier plea of guilty to this case and consider your good driving records, I cannot do anything for your demerits point as that is the LAW of Court however, I will waive off the $450 fine.
Me: Thank You, your honour. 
Well, to me, this news is better than nothing. I have saved $450 and learnt a lot from this episode. In the court session today, there were ONLY TWO Asians. One was a China guy who was caught twice for drunk driving where the Judge suspended his licence. The other Asian guy was me. 
I think the reason why I don’t see many Asian going to court to fight their case is that Asians tend to be reserved and just comply to pay the penalty/fine.
I am not advocating people should break the law and wilfully not pay the penalty but today lesson have taught me this. 
The LAW is UPRIGHT and punishment will dealt with but there is always a compassionate side of the LAW where if you plea with the LAW, the LAW will judge you based on the circumstances and reduce penalties accordingly.

The friend prefers to remain anonymous.

In short, if you can afford the time and remote risk of paying a heftier fine than on the summons, it's worth trying.

I would probably do this the next one I cop. A and I have each 'exhausted' our free official warnings and a day in court might prove to be an interesting life experience, even if we don't actually save any money.

Note: For speeding summonses where the alleged speed is up to 10km/h above the speed limit and it is the first offence in the past two years, these are automatically eligible for "pardon" to a warning, for those who write in. If you do not write in to appeal, it's demerit points and a fine as per normal.


Thursday, 26 February 2015

The ripoff dentist

As ex-Singaporeans (but still Singapore citizens officially, I'm just nitpicking between citizenship and identity here), we have heard a ton about how expensive dental care is in Australia. The Singaporeans we knew who live or work in Oz would try to schedule their dentist visits whenever they went back to Sg to visit.

So we waited, and waited. After all, we've gone for extended periods between dentist visit while living in sg. We've been living here for 15 months now, without having visited a dentist. Until today.

A few days ago, I started developing a toothache at the back of the left of my upper jaw. Right where a wisdom tooth could be expected to emerge. Indeed, it was on its way out.

Being currently underemployed and having quite a bit of spare time, I decided to bite the bullet and face the exorbitant cost of visiting a dentist here. So I traipsed over to the medical centre not ten minutes walk from where we live to enquire, and made an appointment on the same day (today). Turns out that there was a "special" for dentist treatment, and being the perennial tight arse, I decided to go for it as my teeth were long overdue for "servicing" anyway.

Fucking expensive dental treatment in Australia
The dentist was such a ripoff that two $15 "single X-Ray film"s and the dentist's tender mercies couldn't ascertain if I needed the offending wisdom tooth extracted.

So I had to go for an X-ray upstairs. It took about 15 minutes and I was presented with two copies of film and goodness knows how much my fellow Aussie taxpayers had to pay for my X-ray. Don't worry, A pays more than enough tax to cover it. At least there were no charges to me. At the rate I've been having X-rays here (this is my 3rd, the first two were to rule out fractures on two separate occasions), I'd be broke if I had to pay for them like in some other countries.

The ripoff dentist then examined the film and told me that I should get my two upper wisdom teeth removed. "The sooner, the better", she said. Of course she would. She must be on commission basis or something

I was quoted $120 for one, and $150 for the other. The nerve!

**Not a fair comparison, but I remember surgical extraction of my two lower wisdom teeth in sg cost me something like $2,400, most of which was claimed back from Medisave. But it was a highly-recommended surgeon, not some random ripoff neighbourhood dentist.


Friday, 13 February 2015

On the warparth Part 1: A letter to the ombudsman

Some people never learn that I am not someone to be fucked around with. I've had it with my employer's bullshit, and he's gonna have something coming his way.

Apparently there's a government body for people to complain to about everything. I'm not sure how long my complaint will take to reach someone, but I will ensure that it eventually does.

Here's the email to the Victorian Ombudsman, Agony Uncle extraordinaire:

Good day Sir/Mdm,

I have been working part-time at (xxxxxxx), a recent start-up workshop located at (xxxxx), ABN (xxxx999999)

More often than not, I am paid late, and to date, I have not seen one cent of Super in my Super fund. Whenever I ask him about my Super, the boss says “later”.

I am sick and tired of this rubbish, but I don’t know who I can turn to to resolve this situation.

As far as I know, none of my co-workers have received their Superannuation. Only my former supervisor, who has left the company for more than two months ago now, has reportedly been paid. Even then, the super was paid out very recently, and certainly delayed by half a year if not more.

If any clarification is required, I may be reached at (S's mobile).


In Part 2 of this series, maybe I'll call the Australian Tax Office. In part 3, if it gets to that stage, I might talk more about my job. Then again, I must confess part 1 & 2 are more for my pleasure than yours.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Let it go, let it go...

Quick updates before I get down to my point:

- We've pretty much settled into our new home.
- I've sold the motorbike and am trying to sell my Subaru Forester (leave a comment if interested)
- Bought a lorry which goes off-road properly

A Nissan Navara pick-up truck in your language. We call these things "utes" (short for "utility")
Incidentally, you don't need a 4WD or AWD to access a campsite like this. You'd make it here in a Honda Jazz.
- Visited a bunch of other places and picked a variety of different sorts of fruit

Mundane stuff. Nothing much to see here. Just our lives as we chose to live it. And of course sometimes we have to adapt to situations or challenges as they pop up. Life will never be a bed of roses, certainly not if you choose to emigrate or make any significant changes at all in your life.

Now, for what I think some people might do well to hear and internalise. Specifically my fellow emigres from sg.

Holding on to sg does nobody any good. Not yourselves, not your immediate family members here, not your friends and family over there. Especially if such things bother you.

You can take potshots at whichever poleeticians you wish. You can rant at a "Foreign Talent" from TTSH allegedly posting racist stuff on FB. You can keep tabs on sg news and get really riled up by the happenings over there.

Or you could simply Let It Go.

Now, I didn't come up with this idea/method/formula, but it has worked well for me. A fellow migrant from sg told me that shortly after he reached Melbourne, he unfollowed all social media news feeds from sg and maybe unfollowed or unfriended people who had a habit of posting and sharing such news.

I said "maybe" because that's what I did. I unliked or unfollowed Jentrified Citizen, SDP, TOC, TRS, just to name a few. I unfollowed those on my Facebook who posted such news. My newsfeed took on a very different look after all that.

And I just sat here in relative radio silence for awhile. Well, news-wise anyway. There's quite a bit happening in Oz and around the world. Took a little getting used to but it wasn't hard at all. Small 'price' to pay to avoid being burdened by the happenings from sg.

Next up, I had to remind myself to stop or at least limit the comparisons between here and sg. As our readers might have noticed, we've stopped blogging regularly, and this is partly why.

Singapore has been "there", in our hearts and minds for the longest time. We wouldn't go "back" to sg. We would go "there" and "return to Melbourne". Most certainly we don't refer to it as "home", and often we have to correct friends, colleagues and classmates when they ask when we are "going home" (my usual response is 5.30pm)

To put it bluntly, Singapore had to kind of cease to exist for us. There's nothing to hold on to. Or maybe "cease to exist" is too extreme. It's just the place we happened to be born in. No special significance whatsoever. Yes we have dear friends and family over there, but that's it.

Now you can choose to always love sg, or you can choose to let it go. We made our choice, and it has worked out very well for us. Mainly me, as A never had the sort of attachment or strong feelings to/against sg that I used to have.

I remember a lot of Singaporeans complaining that the FTs in sg clung to their old ways and stuck to their own kind, speaking their own languages. I can tell you that these "FTs" in Oz do the same thing too.

So do the Singaporeans I've met here. Most of them anyway.

What makes you any different?

At the end of the day, your life, your choice, as always. As long as we have no regrets, it's all good :)