The phone rings, I tense up. It’s late at night so I know that it will have to be my parents calling me from back home and yet I do not rush to take the call. I compose myself; take a deep breath and answer. “Hi Kanna, (a Tamil term of endearment) how are you…” says my mother as our daily conversation begins.
We exchange pleasantries, discuss the usual mundane happenings of our day, however recently, there are undercurrents; the sense that this genial exchange was merely an aside from what was really on the forefront of her mind, the question that she is burning to ask, the question that causes me to think twice about answering the phone in the first place.
“So… Has there been any news?” My mother asked earnestly, hoping against hope that today I will give her the answer she wants to hear. I extinguish the irrational and all-consuming guilt I feel, steel my heart and return the same answer that I have given her for the past few months since internship offers started going out. “No mum, no news yet” The change in emotion is palpable, there is silence on the other end of the line as my mother no doubt composes herself, trying as hard as she can to extinguish the forlornness from her voice and does her best to sound optimistic as she replies “I’m sure something will turn up, I know it will”. She is a terrible actress. It must be genetic.
I chose to come to Australia; I was educated in the British International schooling system and when I finished my A-levels I had my pick of UK universities to study medicine, yet the prospect of a British winter (and a British summer for that matter) put a very real chill in my bones. Thus, despite my parents reservations, I decided to turn down the UK and wait six months and apply to Australia.
I have not regretted that decision for a moment because, while the UK would have been an excellent place to study, here in Australia, I found a home.
I fell in love with Australia for its vastness and exceptionally varied beauty; from its bright sandy beaches to its brandishing red centre. I fell in love with the Australian style of never taking oneself too seriously and always being welcoming. But most of all, I fell in love with its people. I have dined with them, shared a drink with them, have had more than a few laughs with them and have gone through hardships with them. Through the course of my time here, some of these people I regard as family, not just as friends or colleagues.
The fact that I wasn’t actually an Australian citizen never affected the relationships I formed with my friends and colleagues, nor did it serve to be a factor when I interacted with patients and health professionals in the hospital. I studied my hardest and gave my patients my best effort, because these were the people I was training to care for, these are the people who welcomed me into their land and made me feel at home.
That is what makes this current internship situation such a bitter pill to swallow. In my time here, I gave my all and was fully prepared to serve the Australian people who I considered my own, yet I am being turned away because of some flaw in policy which only now takes into account that I am not an Australian citizen.
It seems the height of irrationality to turn me and my fellow international students away at the gate after all this time (and money) spent integrating us into the health system. We are finally fully-trained and a utilisable asset to the health system, assets which comes pre-equipped with the desired skill sets and assets that are aware of the Australian cultural sensibilities and norms because of the fact that we, for the better part of half a decade (and even more so in other cases), have been part of its culture.
So it is with this in mind that I urge you, politicians, policy makers and most of all, the people of Australia with whom I have become so enamoured, to give me the opportunity to show you how much my time here has meant to me by allowing me to continue my training in Australia. I wish to serve its people with the unique knowledge and experiences that I gathered throughout my time here. I ask that you please don’t let flawed policy and political short-sightedness be what calls to end my time in Australia.
Jayant is still waiting to hear if he will get an internship. If you want to help him, please support the #interncrisis campaign.Take Action