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177 Nations of Tasmania - Episode 42 - A bit of Indonesia in Devonport

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

I finally made my first foray outside of Southern Tasmania and Launceston to do a couple of interviews in Devonport, Tasmania's third city. I am hoping these will be the first of many more as I'm keen to find out more about what would be a quite different migrant experience in Tasmania's smaller, regional towns and cities.

Devonport has definitely attracted more migrants in recent years through a combination of affordability, lifestyle and regional visa program incentives, and there was definitely some noticeable signs of this as I walked around the town, with more non-white faces around, an Afghan cafe, and Asian restaurants scattered around.

My first interview was with Ranti, who has lived in Devonport fo 7 years and seen some real changes to the cultural diversity of the city in that time. She grew up in Jakarta, one of the largest metropolises in South East Asia and a place that couldn't be more different from Devonport.

I think Ranti is a really good model of how to be successful as a migrant in a regional area. In contrast to the bigger cities, even a city like Hobart, you are not going to find so many people from your cultural background or pre-existing communities that you can tap into. You stand out more, which can be unnerving for some. Loneliness and homesickness can hit harder in such a place. In our interview, Ranti hit on some key things she has done to overcome these challenges.

Of course, the first is to find friends. As Ranti points out, it's a real temptation to just stick to people of your own nationality or ethnic group, but this is very limiting in a small place and she was able to make a local friend who connected her with others and her social circle quickly grew. One perhaps unexpected advantage Ranti discovered about living in a small city was the number of different activities on offer, and more importantly, time to do them. Many migrants I have talked to have been able to pursue creative and physical activities here far more than they could in their own country, which has made me realise that we, as long-term locals take some of these things for granted or even undervalue the importance of artistic endeavours. These things can be really important for both quality of life and mental health.

In Ranti's case, she has discovered a real passion for painting and is even planning her first exhibition. I can't remember all the activities she's participated in, but she's about to learn pole dancing ( not the first interviewee to do this ).


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