A COUPLE from Huddersfield are forging a new life for themselves in Perth ... for the second time.
And it’s the recession along with changes in working practices and the poor British weather that has led to Len Vasiljevs and wife Kathryn returning Down Under.
The couple had lived there for five years, but decided to return home in March 2008.
Len said: “The pull of family and friends had become too apparent. We were happy to be back and visited our family and friends. It was great to see the Yorkshire landscape, but wished the weather was not so bitterly cold.’’
Kathryn returned to work in the NHS and Len set up his own business as a courier, but swiftly realised that the British economy was heading for trouble.
“I could tell something was not quite right,’’ he said. “I had noticed that the construction industry had slowed down and knew that this could be an early indication of a recession.
“I relayed my concerns to a financial adviser at my bank, but he seemed unfazed by my observation. But potential clients had spoken about saving money and how business was not that good so it seemed confidence was low.’’
Len closed the businesses when the recession struck hard, but a friend managed to sort him out with a job in his heating and plumbing business in the autumn of 2009 before he got a job as a printer.
“I will always be eternally grateful to my dear friend – he did me a great favour,’’ said Len.
But the recession turned Len and Kathryn’s minds back to Australia.
“The UK was not quite the same and probably never will be due to the catastrophic financial collapse of Europe,’’ said Len. “We agreed to see how things would pan out in relation to the recession. Maybe it would be over within a year or two. Three and a half years later and our great nation’s prospects still looked bleak. We knew that in our hearts it was time to make a decision and we decided we both wanted to return to Perth.’’
Len added: “Kathryn knew by early 2011 that the NHS organisation she was employed by was to become a social enterprise and she would no longer be working in the NHS.
“A social enterprise is a business whose objectives are primarily social and whose profits are reinvested back into its services.
“Kathryn was not thrilled about the prospect of no longer working for a NHS organisation, after 24 years as a nurse and was also concerned about the ‘business model’ which her department was expected to work to.
“She became a nurse to care for patients and, sadly, things have changed and management seems to have lost sight of what the NHS is supposed to provide. This was, in fact, the final element in our decision to return to Australia, where Kathryn could be employed in an organisation who put patients first, not business.’’
Kathryn secured a post as a registered midwife and nurse within the same unit of the hospital she had previously worked in and Len applied for printing jobs.
“Within two days of landing back in Perth I was offered two jobs and I was ecstatic,’’ he said.
“Unfortunately I took the wrong offer. The employer had taken on two people rather than one and realised he had overstretched the business.
“He thought I had the better prospects to find work quickly and so made me redundant.
“They say things happen for a reason and I am now happily employed as a print estimator for an established printing company which is just a 15 minute drive away from where we live.’’
Len says that it is expensive to live in Perth.
“Western Australia has many natural resources like coal, gas, oil, iron and diamonds – it is a very mineral rich state,’’ he said. “Many people are employed in the mines and employees generally ‘fly in and fly out’. Average incomes are in the region of $100,000. Unfortunately, this is the main reason why prices have sky rocketed and people have become greedy.
“The workers in the mines are on good incomes, but most people in Perth are not paid as handsomely. Until the problem is addressed, Perth will remain an expensive city.’’
But the weather is a massive plus point.
“The climate is fantastic,’’ he said. “We are currently in mid autumn and we still get sunny days of around 28°C (82°F). Barbecue grills are free to use in many parks.
“There are lots of community based ventures to raise money for charities. We have just bought our Perth edition of ‘The Entertainment Book’ for 2012/2013. Community groups and organisations sell it to raise funds for their causes.
“Each book contains hundreds of vouchers with up to 50% off items and buy one get one free offers from restaurants, arts, attractions, hotel accommodation, travel and many more things. They cost $65 and are valid for one year from June 1. This is a great example of one of Australia’s imaginative initiatives to help both businesses and the Australian public.’’
The couple don’t regret the move back.
“We both love our country and the places we both grew up in,’’ said Len. “We love our family and friends. We had our reasons to leave Huddersfield, but we feel that we both have more reasons to stay in Perth.’’