Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Hilda Mabeka
'As A Black Person, I Have Never Feared For My Life In Australia'
Hilda Mabeka is an Afro-Aussie currently living in Newman, a remote mining town in Western Australia.
She’s been living and working in different parts of the Pilbara district in Western Australia for the last 10 years. In an interview with Travel Noire, Hilda opens up about life in Australia as a black woman.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to relocate to Australia?
Hilda Carere Mabeka: I grew up in Zimbabwe, Africa, and went to a Catholic boarding school. My mom hustled and struggled hard to make ends meet and ensured my siblings and I had the best education. I remember always telling myself I wanted a career where I would ‘save the world.’ Funny how, after many years as a professional working in the field, I realized no one saves the world, all you do is give people tools for them to make changes in their lives.
I was 18 when I moved to Western Australia in 2002. I remember watching a Hillsong conference, where they were thousands of people of every race and creed worshipping God. It was so freeing to watch, and I decided, I must go to Australia. I got accepted as an international student to study at Murdoch University in Perth, where I studied a Bachelor of Arts in Community Development and Sociology. I followed that with a master’s in Development Studies. My plan was to return to Zimbabwe and work in the development sector as I was eager to ‘save the world.’ With the economic downturn in Zimbabwe, I found myself staying in Australia. 18 years later, I am still here and loving it, Australia is home.
Travel Noire: How is it being black in Australia?
Hilda Carere Mabeka: My views on this might not be popular, but nevertheless here they are. As a Christian, I realize we live in a fallen world. So, everything that is occurring where black people are oppressed and dehumanized is a result of the fall of men. Crucial to our fight for justice as black people, is to remember that it is a spiritual battle and war. Yes, physical actions like, ‘respectful dialogue’, protests, and advocating for equality do yield some results, the real battle is in prayer.
My personal experience living in Australia as a black person is somewhat unique. I have had some incidents with racism that are subtle. I have been blessed that in my employment I have worked with supportive management and have never been overlooked for promotion because I am black. I am sure my experience is not the same for every black migrant in Australia. Australia has a regretful past with the White Australia policy and stolen generation and its treatment of Indigenous Australians. Systemic issues of racism still exist. There are also efforts being made by the government to deal with its past as well as ensure that the gap of disadvantage between Indigenous Australians and the rest of Australia is closed. This will be a long journey in which we might not see changes for generations. However, the fight for equality and justice must continue.
TN: How would you pitch Australia to black people looking to relocate?
Hilda Carere Mabeka: Five reasons you should move to Australia as a black person:
- Australia is a beautiful country, it’s a continent by the way. There are lots of opportunities for professionals. All my university mates who were black successfully gained employment in their field of study.
- Australia is safe. As a black person, I have never feared for my life that I will get killed by the police in my house or on the street.
- Believe it or not, there is a huge black diaspora in Australia made of professionals from many African countries and who migrated to Australia as professionals. Most of us came to study and stayed in Australia and call it home. I mean there are even black people working in remote desert communities of Australia, that is how widespread we are.
- I am biased towards Western Australia. There are lots of opportunities in WA. I live in a mining town. The mining industry contributes about 8% of Australia’s GDP. So, living in a mining town there are a lot of perks that you get for example free accommodation with the job and other benefits and allowances you would not ordinarily get in the city. For those with children, the schools are lovely with lovely teaching staff who go out of their way to ensure there is a conducive environment to learn. check out the Pilbara Development Commission website to learn more about the Pilbara region(www.pdc.was.gov.au)
- If you love traveling to Asia, Australia is next door so there are a lot of cheap flights and deals to Bali.
I have no regrets moving to Australia as a teenager. Australia is a land of opportunity. I would suggest you do research online about Australia and where you want to move to. A visit will probably be best, so you get a feel of the country before you make a big move. If you want to move professionally hit me up on social media and I will recommend some reputable migration agents who might be able to discuss with you options. Lastly, a great man of God once said. ‘People are people,’ so maybe do not expect much from people, live your life, and fight for what you are passionate about.