The Placement Circle was established to provide a means through which women could be empowered to achieve financial autonomy. The nature of our charity means that we often assist vulnerable, at-risk women.
Our newly established ‘Voices of TPC’ provides valuable insight into the lives of such women but at times we must go to some lengths to protect their identity. As such, the below is only an excerpt of the full interview.
NB: To maintain the integrity of the interview, no changes to structure or grammar have been made.
Place of Birth: Jakarta, Indonesia
Arrival in Australia: 2018
Interviewer: Tell me about your life back in Indonesia
Interviewee: “Before coming here, in Indonesia I worked as a teacher for seven years. I teach high school, secondary, elementary. I worked in more than one school, all Islamic schools. When I came here, I stopped teaching.”
Interviewer: Why did you decided to come to Australia?
Interviewee: “My husband sponsored me to come here, that's why I came here. My husband was already a citizen. He was working here."
Interviewer: Through which kind of Visa did you come here?
Interviewee: “He (husband) sponsored me on a partner Visa. In 2020, Immigration sent me email that I became a permanent resident. Alhamdulillah...Unbelievable, then very quickly i called my lawyer-I got my email from immigration and she said congratulations. Oh, I'm so happy."
Interviewer: What do you enjoy about Australia?
Interviewee: “I like in Australia, all people uh...when I'm in very bad condition all people help me, so that's what I very like...they care.I don’t know who they are (doctors/social workers), they don’t understand me but they help me. They give all hand for me. It's amazing for me.
Interviewer: Is there anything that you don’t like about Australia?
Interviewee: “I am not happy only about the weather because it’s very cold and very hot!!oh my god!! very hot, oh my god!!”
Interviewer: Do you like the food here?
Interviewee: No, I still like Indonesian food. But when I lived with my husband I always cook his (national) food...that's why when i ran away from him...oh I'm freedom now i can cook Indonesian food. You can imagine now I cook alone. I eat alone!
Interviewer: Did you work here in Australia?
Interviewee: “When I come here, I did not continue work. Only sometimes. Sometimes in restaurant, cleaning, everything, but not continue.”
Interviewer: Tell me how you felt when you got your first wage?
Interviewee: “You know, the first time, first time I got a job, It meant I got the money, right? I am very happy but when I got money, after my husband take all the money...I am shocked. oh my god this is my money! This is my money, I earned it!”
Interviewer: Where was your job at that moment?
Interviewee: “Cleaning, new office, new home or apartment"
Interviewer: How did you cope with your husband taking your money?
Interviewee: "I don't want to fight with him. Because I try for appreciate him, just quiet...okay, okay one time, two time until maybe one hundred time I'm just quiet but in here (pointing to her head), oh not god not like this one...no, no I don't like this one. I work, I tired but why I don’t have the money?!"
Interviewer: Did you find a job immediately after you arrived or was it difficult for you?
Interviewee: "No, I wait a little bit time because when I come here I got job but my husband not agree. He will say “stay at home, stay at home, stay at home” And I as a wife, “ok you're my husband, I will follow you”. So, everything my husband say A or B, I follow."
Interviewer: How were things with your husband after you moved here?
Interviewee: "Right, I not understand how he is. I mean how he likes I do not understand. Only one very important for me I asked him do you play gambling? Because for me in every country I know man-woman like, for me I need understand. You like (gambling) or no? But he lie to me, he said “no I don’t like”. Okay, but after I know he very like (gambling with the money)....for me, in my country, like satan. He's not kid, he understand which one good. Okay if only for fun is okay, but not like eat hungry hungry (addiction to gambling), no good, when I understand I am very shocked)."
Interviewer: When did you decide It's time to go on your own way?
Interviewee: “...We're different like oil and water. I like pray, he like gambling...he go to drink so...I think...I don’t know, I can't say anything. But always until now I dua (prayer of request) after pray, allah please change him, so he become to...not good husband, a person...at least a man.
After a very difficult occurrence I ran away"
Interviewer: How are things different for you now?
Interviewee: “Before I felt all dark. All for me like kiamat (doomsday) like It's the end of the world. Slowly, slowly I go to psychology, Gp, Counselling...slowly slowly I see new life, all shining, all different. And I need time. I don't know how long I'll just keep going, just focus with myself. Maybe later if I'm always independent and comfortable I think of another but for now I'm focused just with myself.”
Interviewer: Where did you first hear about The Placement Circle?
Interviewee: “I got this course from the SMRC, she (her social worker from SMRC) very very helped me. She told me: “this is good for you”.”
Interviewer: How has The Placement Circle empowered you?
Interviewee: “...because I'm alone in here, I don't have family, I don't have friends, I am very scared...I am not confident.
That's why I'm very very thank you to all...The Placement Circle...all all (my support services) without all, I don't know because all made me confident again...my home, my future...I keep my money alone, I can keep it myself, nobody can take me again. I can manage,I can buy food, clothes...I'm so happy.”
Interviewer: Are you enjoying the course?
Interviewee: “I am enjoying and I am happy with this class...we got another (classmates), spanish, arabic and another from Vietnam, I think.”
Interviewer: Have you made many friends?
Interviewee: “yes...sometimes we talk in the group, on whatsapp. I like this class”
Interviewer: Being a teacher before, how do you feel about being a student again?
Interviewee: “I understand when I’m a teacher in my country, all my student very happy with tax and accounting...when I ask they say...uhh come again come again ( ask to explain the content again once asked a question despite saying they all understood)
Now I am student and I can feel oh...before my student (were) like this one...now I understand!”
Interviewer: Is there anything you'd like to share with other women?
Interviewee: “Yes. I want to share my experience. First time I'm shy I won't share my experience I don't want everyone either (reluctant to talk to others)...after (a while she felt) “why I'm shy?” I will share my experience so all people can understand. So be careful, don’t (be) like me.”
Interviewer: Any key message from your life experiences for all the women out there?
Interviewee: “Only one...Don't forget Allah or your God. You Christian, you Buddist, or whatever your religion, don’t go away from your Allah...trust and appreciate. And when you live with it, you feel in your heart.”
(Image of Indonesian classroom by Husniati Salma / sourced from Unsplash)