Many migrants come to Australia with the hope of securing a better life, economic opportunity or relief from conflict in their homelands. And they add enormous value to our workplaces, friendship groups and communities. Today we're sharing our dental assistant Del's migration story.
Hi Del! Where are you from?
I am originally from the Philippines. Born and raised in a remote village, prior to migrating to the city of Manila in my primary grades.
Why did you decide to migrate?
Fate brought me to Australia in 1989.
What did you do in your home country in terms of study and work?
Coming from a financially disadvantaged family, it was always my goal to further my education, the only way I knew to break the cycle of poverty. While attending High School, I worked at a Vehicle Clutch & Brake Bonding Service Business for pocket money, where I helped change worn clutch and brake pads. I learned the art of the trade, and yes, I can very well tell when my clutch and brakes need attending to.
At age 17, after finishing High School, I was fortunate to land a job at a multi-specialist Dental Center where I progressively learned most areas of Dentistry. I needed this job to fund my higher education.
Three years into my full time DA job, I was a part time uni student taking up a BA major in Banking & Finance.
While I was loving this job, one of our clients made me a job offer I could not refuse: paid uni education! And with a blessing from my boss at the Dental Center, I joined the Corporate Office, as a Secretary to the VP at a major car manufacturing company in the Philippines.
I resigned a few years later as I allowed "Mr. Right", (a long time Australian client at the Dental Center where I used to work, who I met 8 years prior), to snatch me out of university and out of the country.
What do you miss most about the Phillipines?
Family and friends, cooking and gatherings around food, the village. Most of all, spending time with my big sister. I really look forward to the day when we can safely travel so I can see my family again who I used to see quite often prior to the pandemic.
Have you faced discrimination in your career journey?
It would be untrue if I don't say yes. Yes, I have. But I never let it affect me personally and how I perform my job and what is expected of me.
What have been the biggest challenges?
The feeling of emptiness is the biggest challenge I suppose migrants face and that was true for me. I say ‘it was’ because now not only do I have a loving family at home, but a loving 'family' at work.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Just how far I have come from my humble beginnings to working in organizations such as The Royal Dental Hospital (2010 - present) and Inspiro (2003 - present).
But what I take pride most in is my professional skills assisting clinicians making a difference in the lives of the clients. It is most rewarding seeing the end result.
How does being a migrant work to your advantage in your current role?
Being a migrant, I find that the following phrase often, if not always gets me out of awkward or difficult situations: "Me no English!!!"
Just joking! :-))
On a serious note, being a migrant keeps me grounded. I have every sympathy and empathy for migrant clients and of course for all, regardless of background. Knowledge of language other than English is definitely an advantage.
Is anything about Australia different to how you imagined it would be?
Australia is a massive land space! :-))
Another thing that was surprising to me was the welcoming feeling the Australians have for migrants. I was amazed to realise that there is such a beautiful place on earth that affords migrants like me, and provides an equal opportunity and the freedom to live a beautiful life.
What do you like most about working at Inspiro?
Ongoing professional development which allowed me to complete Cert 4 in Oral Health Promotion Program and Intra Oral Radiography.
Happy and satisfied clients...the people I work with...more to mention definitely.
What's one piece of advice you wish all your patients knew?
I wish that all patients knew the 5 basic ways to minimise (if not prevent) the likelihood of developing caries and gum diseases:
- Proper tooth brushing technique, morning AND before bed at night.
- Flossing daily
- Healthy diet and minimizing sugar intake
- Not smoking
- Regular dental visits