Back in 2014 when Temis Kao first arrived in Warrnambool from Taiwan, the first thing that drew her in was the beauty of the ocean.
Now, her time is up, and Ms Kao says the ocean is one of the things she will miss most after she flies home Saturday.
After she came to the south-west, the industrious young woman found a job in the laundry at Midfield Meat and worked to improve her English. Ms Kao arrived on a working holiday visa, but after some time she dreamed of being able to stay longer by obtaining a 457, or temporary skilled worker, visa.
Ms Kao honed her English language skills and worked her way up to the position of an agency assistant, helping other foreign-born workers settle in.
She also set up a Facebook group to connect workers (some colloquially known as ‘backpackers’) from Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan and other countries to what was going on in Warrnambool.
“My purpose is to try to translate different languages for our backpackers to let them know what kind of fun and activities are in Warrnambool, because I was trying to connect the backpackers with the community,” she said. “I want to let every backpacker, when they come, have a good memory and a good experience. They will introduce their friends too and they will say, ‘oh come to Warrnambool near the Great Ocean Road and visit us and we can have fun here’.”
“I think it’s very important to have Warrnambool be famous in the backpacker circle.”
The group grew to more than 700 members and Ms Kao contacted local businesses and met with Warrnambool City Council regularly to pass on information.
Ms Kao’s recent application for a 457 visa was knocked back, which she linked to immediate changes introduced when the federal government announced in April the visa type would be abolished and replaced next year. The changes significantly reduced the number of occupations eligible under the visa.
Now that her time is up, she hopes one of her friends will take over the group.
The full story of Ms Kao’s experience in Warrnambool will appear in this Saturday’s edition of The Standard.