Suddenly, Sydney is the new home for the next generation of Brazilians

Brazilian dancers perform at the Sydney Opera House. Photo: Matt King/ Getty Images.

The number of Brazilians travelling to Australia is booming.

The short-term arrivals to Australia hit a record high of 48,100 in trend terms in the 12 months to January 2017. That’s up 181%, or 31,000, on short term arrivals in the year to January 2007.

On top of that, the estimated resident population of Australians born in Brazil has reached 26,750 – 12,670 males and 14,070 females.

You may have noticed the trend if you’re a Sydneysider. Not only is it becoming a popular tourist attraction for expats, but more and more younger Brazilians who are searching for a new life away from the unrest in their home country are setting up digs in the Harbour City.


A recent history

Brazilian migration to Australia has only had a somewhat short history.

According to government records, there was some early migration from Brazil during the 19th century, when English ships stopped at Rio de Janeiro en route to Australia.

But it wasn’t until the late 1960s and early 1970s that larger scale migration from Latin America started under the Australian gvernment’s Assisted Migration Program.

In the 1980s, towards the end of the Brazilian military dictatorship, significant numbers migrated to Australia under the Humanitarian Program.

Since the early 2000s, most new arrivals are well-educated and from middle to higher socio-economic backgrounds, with many arriving as students or travellers.

Statistics from the 2011 Census suggest of the 79% that worked here, most were employed as either a skilled managerial, professional or trade occupation (44.8%).

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s annual report, 1,141 Brazilians were granted Australian citizenship in 2015-16.

While that isn’t as many as those from the UK or India, which saw more than 20,000 people granted citizenship, it was at a similar rate to Canada, Fiji and Germany.

Tourism Australia teamed up with Brazil’s leading TV network Globo to produce Australian episodes of its TV drama – Totalmente Demais – helping to further boost Brazilians’ growing desire for holidaying in Australia. Photo: IMDb.

We asked Tourism Australia whether there has been a focus on advertising Australia in Brazil which could explain the sudden boom in expats.

“Our strategy has always been targeting those international markets where we see the biggest future growth opportunities, and this certainly means keeping an eye on emerging markets such as Brazil,” a spokesperson told Business Insider.

“We know from our consumer research that Brazilians love Australia’s nature, wildlife, our beaches and coastal experiences. Australia is also particularly popular amongst the country’s luxury travellers, so much so that we have identified Brazil as a ‘top three’ luxury market.

“The main focus of our marketing at the moment is building strong relationships with key travel trade partners in Brazil and Latin America.”

And while that explains the holidayers, what about those who have set up digs for an extended stay?

Carlos Ferri, the CEO of logistics company ZAPALA Group, arrived in Australia eight years ago, carrying two suitcases and speaking very limited English.

“The main reason why I came here (was) I needed to learn the language in order to have better professional opportunities back home,” he said.

“I’ve arrived here as an international student who couldn’t communicate at all and short on a budget.

“The first few weeks, it was a big shock: new place, different people, time zones… a completely different way of life.”

But despite the “challenging” settling in period, he now calls Sydney home.

“After six months I decided to stay in the country a little bit more as my English wasn’t proficient enough to go back home and get back into an executive position. By then I decided to study Information Technology besides having English classes, as I have always been interested in it.

“By the end of a year I was feeling accomplished and so welcomed to Australia that I decided to stay permanently.

“The Australian government is interested in skilled workers and by then I had all the skills required, so I’ve applied to the national program.

“I’ve also noticed that there were so many opportunities and I could do something about it. So I’ve started my first company and after a lot of hard work, things started to happen.”

A beaut place to learn the lingo

According to Maucir Nascimento, president of the Brazilian Community Council of Australia, and also a Brazilian expat himself, Ferri’s experience is a common trend among Brazilians expats in Australia.

“I would say 9 out of 10 people say I will stay here for the rest of my life”

“When we arrive here there is a six month period where we are so amazed by Australia — I would say 9 out of 10 people say I will stay here for the rest of my life,” he said, adding that many end up marrying Australians.

“The profile of people coming to Australia has changed over the last 20 years. First it was families, now it is young adults, mostly upper middle class… with university degrees.”

But for those who don’t stay, it comes down to a few issues, he says.

“As time goes on a few things weigh on people. There is a massive difference in culture. The commonwealth countries’ morals are different,” he said.

“Even though Australians are warm and friendly, it’s not like what we understand and friendly and open. The boundaries are much more defined over here.”

He explained that many of the young Brazilians that travel to Australia soon realise they can’t afford to keep up the same lifestyle they enjoyed in Brazil, and they go back home.

“These people are part of a class where they never had to wash their own clothes,” he said.

“We have people to do everything. The young people take everything for granted.”

Manly beach is a popular destination for Brazilian travelers and expats. Photo: Cameron Spencer/ Getty Images.

For Ferri it was the “no judgement” lifestyle in Australia that enticed him to stay.

“One of my favorite things about Australia is that you can choose to live your life any way you want, with no judgements,” he said.

“It also gives you all the opportunities and it will reward you if you take it seriously and work hard enough for it.”

Nascimento estimates that there are actually 60,000 Brazilians in Australia, of which half of are in NSW alone — a significantly higher number than that represented in government figures.

“There’s a massive silent community in the west and the northern beaches,” he says, “… and a growing population of LGBT community.”

Civil servants protesting against austerity measures clash with riot police and set fire to a bus on Rio Branco, the main avenue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, while firefighters attempt to put out the blaze, on February 1, 2017. Photo: Vanderlei Almeida/ AFP/ Getty Images.

He says with growing fears about terrorism in the US, and the European crisis situation and its cold weather, the media makes Sydney look like an ideal location.

“Sydney is everywhere. It is one of the best cities in the world,” he said.

Ferri agreed, saying that Brazil was going through a difficult political and economic moment in Brazil and it is causing people to move abroad, even if it is for a short period.

“It can be for three months or for a couple of years, but after that those people will go back home with different skills and life-changing experiences, so it will be easier to stand out and get better opportunities,” he said.

Andrew, the manager of Cafecito Sydney, an authentic Brazilian eatery located in the centre of Sydney’s CBD, shared their perspectives.

“90% are coming here to study,” here said, “Of that, more than half are escaping the economic situation in Brazil.

“They are mostly younger people… and try to find a way to stay here.”

In the eight years that Cafecito has been operating, Andrew said that he has had Brazilians coming in every day asking for work.

“We are very well known. We’re the main eatery for that type of food,” he said, adding that unlike churrascos, which have been popularised by Western culture, Cafecito serves traditional Brazilian cuisine, and is why it is a favoured location for Brazilians in Sydney.

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