In the midst of a global pandemic, a Tasmanian dream became a reality for English couple Sonia and David.
Moving across the world in the middle of a pandemic doesn’t exactly fit into anybody’s master plan, but for Mental Health Nurse Sonia Branigan and her husband, David, it made their long-term dream a reality sooner than they’d anticipated.
“It felt like we were running away from COVID”, says Sonia, thinking back over their ordeal. “We were due to set off from the UK later in the year, taking some time off along the way to visit friends and family around the globe, but we just kept watching everything unfold on the news and thought ‘we need to go now!’”
Sonia and David had dreamt of immigrating to Australia since before they’d met one another, and when they realised they shared the same goal they knew they could achieve it together. “We’d been looking at each state and what it had to offer”, recalls Sonia. “We were after a healthier pace of life; I worked shifts, and David often had to travel for his job, and we wanted to be able to see more of each other. We’re both really ‘outdoorsy’ people, and love hiking, mountain biking and adventure sports. Tasmania just ticked every box for us!”
The couple arrived in Hobart in mid-March, just as Australia closed its borders.
“We were worried about our families, and concerned about how long it could take me to find work”, says David.
“We found the people we met since we arrived here were so helpful. They shared networking opportunities and links to anything they thought I could get my teeth into, and some casual work for Public Health Services quickly turned into a full time IT position. Hobart has a wonderful, community feel to it – people really look out for each other”.
Originally from Leeds, West Yorkshire, the couple were used to lengthy commutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic. “It would take us a good hour to get to work at busy times, and it really wasn’t even that far”, Sonia states.
“Now, we walk to work along a beautiful rivulet, with Wallabies and Pademelons sharing your space and Cockatoos flying overhead. When we tell people back home, everyone thinks we’re making it up! David’s even seen a platypus on his walk in!”
As a Mental Health Nurse, Sonia has had to hit the ground running. “It’s been a challenge learning a whole new set of legislation along with the additional rules and restrictions to practice brought about by COVID”, Sonia says.
“Luckily, the Royal Hobart Hospital is a great place to work, and we have a really strong team. It’s a great opportunity for us to learn from one another- whilst I’m picking up a wealth of new skills, I’m also able to share knowledge and experience from mental health services in the UK and my co-workers at the Royal are really receptive to that.
“Our knowledge exchange has been recognised quickly, and I’ve already been promoted to a more senior role. That’s allowed me to reduce to a four-day week, giving David and I more time together to do the things we love”.
Now that they’re settling in, Sonia and David are really looking forward to their future in the state. “We just feel so lucky to be here”, says David. “We live in the foothills of kunanyi, and we’re surrounded by walking tracks and bike trails. Not to mention living next door to two rafting and kayaking instructors! Moving to Tasmania has been a great decision for both of us, and six months in, we’re already saving for our dream home here”.
The Statewide Mental Health Service welcomes Mental Health Clinicians interested in relocating to Tasmania from interstate or overseas. They offer relocation assistance and generous relocation packages. Contact them at email@example.com