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Migration & Motherhood: Mothers Building New Lives Abroad

By Natalie Peart, Founder of Jobspeak Academy. 

I am a mum and I am a migrant, but I moved to Australia from Scotland seven years before I gave birth to my daughter. The decision to pick up my life and move to the other side of the world, away from my friends and family wouldn’t have been so easy if I had to think of a small child, and this month I got a glimpse into how hard this must be. My mum visits every Christmas since I had my daughter and after three months of staying with us she traveled back to Scotland, and my three-year-old daughter has told us she misses her everyday. She doesn't understand why her ‘Maw Maw’ has to live somewhere else and it has thrown her into a separation anxiety that she doesn't really understand.


So, it made me think about the reasons women decide to leave their community and security to move to a new country and a new language where they are often held back in their careers due to migration challenges, language barriers and the job search market in Australia that makes it very difficult for them to get the foot in the door. Throw in navigating childcare, schooling and friendships and it is a bit of an uphill battle.


Meet three inspiring women. 

Each of these women have their own individual stories of journeying to Australia, but they share a common trait: the determination to do something that scares them and create a better future for themselves and their families.


Through their stories, we glimpse the emotional rollercoaster that is migration, but we can see the spirit of motherhood that drives their courage and resilience, and this is something that all mothers have in common no matter their native land or language.

Tyagita, Indonesia


Tyagita moved from Indonesia with her baby daughter and husband six years ago, she says that moving away from her friends and family “pushed [her] to be stronger and more independent [mother]”.


 Like so many mothers Tyagita moved to Australia for a better life, and a better future for her family.


In Indonesia, it is impossible to go home from work on time, detach from work after office hours or on the weekend, and even have dinner together as a family on the weekday is a rare occasion because most people would come home very late due to two to three hours of commuting from work”.

Tyagita and family. 


In the early days Tyagita found that the  hardest part was to find a “like-minded friend that was in the same situation as [her]” and she missed the community and connection. Tyagita was a young mum with a baby but without permanent residency status she wasn’t eligible for any childcare support and she didn’t know where to find the support that she needed. 

“When we moved here I had very limited opportunity to practice my English. It really frustrated me and affected my self-esteem as there were so many times when I was misunderstood, had to repeat myself, and even treated poorly because I was struggling with my English”.

“I remember I used to live close to the Language Institution which provides free English classes and childcare services for new migrants. I always walked past that place, pushing pram and daydreaming, that one day I would be able to learn there. After three years of waiting, I enrolled there the next day after our permanent residency was granted. It might be just a free English class, but for me, it was my door to the outside world”.

Tyagita shares a vulnerable moment when she first moved here back in 2015, she was a newlywed and her husband got an opportunity to work in the Australian branch of his company for a year. Tyagita resigned from her job and she thought that it would be a ‘honeymoon experience’ and she would enjoy having a break from work.  “I was completely wrong”, she says, “for the first two months, I cried every night because I felt useless. I had nothing to do, no friends, no making any money, no dressing up in the morning and meeting people, I didn't use my brain. I felt the whole world I knew was taken away from me. For months I kept this secret from my family because I didn’t want to make them worry”.

Tyagita and her husband moved back in 2018 when they had a baby and have since fallen in love with Australia because they share the same value of equality and having a ‘fair go’. 

She noticed from early on that people receive the same treatment no matter what money is in their bank account, and this was a stark difference to life in Indonesia.

“There is no big social gap like in Indonesia, Tyagita tells us, “every child has the same rights to basic health and education, and it is not a privilege”.

“I always remember the moment when we dropped our daughter off for her first day at school” Tyagita says, “my husband and I got teary eyes, remembering all the hardship we’ve been through. Now our daughter can go to a good public school with all those amazing teachers and facilities. Only rich parents can afford that kind of education in Indonesia, while in Australia everyone can get it.

That wouldn’t happen if we would not have been brave enough to move here.”

Thais, Brazil

Thais shares a similar story, a Marketing Professional from Brazil, she moved to Australia when her daughter was six. She wanted her daughter to grow up in a country with economic and political stability, although Thais was nervous about the move to a new culture and language she says that “the margin for risk was significantly smaller when considering the well-being and stability of our daughter”.


“Navigating the language barriers and cultural differences was a significant challenge when I first moved [to Australia]," Thais says.


“I knew learning the language and understanding cultural nuances would be essential, so I immersed myself in various resources like reading, watching documentaries, visiting museums, and engaging with diverse viewpoints. My love for learning drove me, but the frustration of not being able to express myself was real. I had so many ideas but struggled to find the words in English”.

Thais, partner and daughter Alice when they first moved to Australia.  

Humorously, Thais shares a moment when her daughter, Alice knew better English than her parents when they first arrived.

“Our family has a collection of the most hilarious stories. Like the time we were testing the comfort of a sofa in a decor shop, and the salesman's comment about it being "comfy" sent us into a whirl of confusion and laughter. Or navigating casual conversations with colleagues, trying to decipher phrases like “What ‘burb’ do you live in?" meant, or "What you up to?" wondering if it was a trick question.

The best one was smiling and nodding at a sales assistant, only for Alice to tell me I'd just agreed to buy something I knew nothing about”.

Thais’ daughter, Alice is now a teenager. Thais truly believes that Australia's multicultural society has been incredibly enriching for Alice.


“Growing up in such a diverse community, Alice could interact with and learn from people of various cultural backgrounds. This vibrant interaction, especially with recent migrants, has not only broadened her perspectives but has also equipped her with the ability to adapt and connect with individuals from different walks of life”.

Thais is now proud that Alice is an open minded teenager who talks of attending university at UniSA, Harvard, or even in Florence, Italy.

Thais reflects that “[Alice] is in a world of possibilities that seemed unattainable in my own childhood. The idea that studying abroad was once a luxury only for the wealthy, and now she is planning her higher education with friends without feeling constrained by geographical limits, is a testament to how far we've come”.

Thais now works as a Marketing and Communications Professional and has come so far from the early days of her career and job search in Australia, she is honest that the most challenging experience of moving to Australia has been transitioning her career from Brazil without a network or community. Thais also notes that the added demand was being present for her child who was also facing struggles trying to rebuild her social connections and find her place in a new country and language.

“I often share with [Alice] that, although I'm more experienced, I don't have all the answers. But I emphasise that the beauty lies in discovering these answers together. Our relationship is grounded in trust and ongoing learning, which has been a vital lesson for us both”.

A couple of years ago Thais faced a professional challenge and notes that during the time her daughter noticed her distress. “ We have always been open with each other about our feelings, so when she found me crying, she questioned why we were in Australia. She reminded me of the home, job, and close family I had back in Brazil, prompting the question, "What are we doing here?" In that moment I recalled the purpose that brought us to Australia, the real reason, and—just as children do with their simplicity—they become a beacon in stormy seas. They provide clarity and keep us focused on our goals and achievements”. 

Thais is a proud Brazilian woman who is happy to be in Australia but is determined not to lose her Brazilian identity or heritage, and she wants her daughter to always remember her roots and language. 

“At home, we speak Portuguese, and it fills my heart with joy to hear my daughter come home and sing the Brazilian songs. This connection to our language and culture is something we hold dear.

Some people have suggested that we should speak only English at home to accelerate our language learning process. However, I firmly believe that embracing both cultures enriches our lives. It's not about choosing one identity over the other or assimilating to the point of losing our Brazilian heritage. Instead, it's about walking in two worlds, creating a win-win situation where we can appreciate and learn from Australian culture without giving up our own. 

This approach isn't about judging one culture as better or worse than the other: it's about celebrating the uniqueness of our blended experience. By fostering this dual cultural identity, we aim to show that migration is not about loss but about gaining and sharing wealth of cultural experiences”.

Kanchana, India

Kanchana, a determined single mum from India whose decision to move to Australia was to provide her child with the best education. Like many of us, Kanchana felt a mix of excitement and nervousness as she contemplated moving to a new country with her child. 'I was filled with hopes and dreams,' she shares, 'but there was also this nagging worry about whether reality would match up to my expectations, especially when it came to my child's education and opportunities.'

Kanchana loves the multicultural environment of Australia and believes that Australia is an open and inclusive environment to raise children. 

I love the fact that being a single mother is not considered a taboo here unlike certain Asian cultures where people look down upon divorced women”, Kanchana tells us.


“Since there are numerous people who lead such single parenting lifestyles here, it is very easy to resonate with them and have empathetic meaningful conversations”.


“I try to strike up conversations with other women when I can, I like to connect with other single mothers in particular. It gives me an opportunity to understand that single mothers should not consider themselves alone in this world.

"They [single mothers] have the ability and power to rise, be resilient and stay strong even when others cannot. When two women work together, magic happens.”

Kanchana, single mother, marketing professional and MBA student


As we celebrate Women's Month and reflect on the progression, and challenges of women in Australia, it's crucial to consider the global landscape of gender equality. The UN's report on the biggest hurdles for women's global gender equality by 2030 sheds light on challenges such as the lack of women in leadership, workplace discrimination, unequal distribution of unpaid care work, violence against women, and limited economic opportunities. While these issues are prevalent in Australia, it's important to recognize that women in countries facing war, famine, and political instability often contend with even greater obstacles.


The stories of Tyagita, Thais, and Kanchana serve as powerful reminders of the resilience, strength, and determination of women worldwide. Despite facing unique challenges in their journey’s, they share a common goal: to create a better life for their children. Their experiences confirm the ongoing need to advocate for gender equality on a global scale. As we continue our efforts to address the systemic barriers that hinder women's progress, let us draw inspiration from these stories and work towards a world where every woman has the opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of her language, location, religion or culture.


About Natalie

Natalie Peart is the founder of Jobspeak Academy, an online platform and community that is on a mission to equip migrant professionals with the confidence, communication and employment skills needed to use their skills from overseas to build a fulfilling career in Australia.


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