Brazilians in Australia
Since arriving in Australia in 1998, I have been researching why middle-class Brazilians choose the country to study and live and how religion – be it Pentecostalism or Spiritism -- assists their settlement and transnational connections with Brazil. Brazil was traditionally an immigrant nation, but recurring socio-economic crises starting in the late 20th century have exacerbated social inequalities, crime, and violence, prompting many to emigrate. While the poor leave the country to find work elsewhere, young middle-class professionals and students leave to accumulate flexible citizenship and escape crime, violence, and stress in everyday life. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, Australia has become a favoured destination for middle-class young Brazilians. The country’s beach/surf culture, safe streets, English language, strong economy, and developed-world status are significant attractions. Australia’s visa system, which allows 20 hours of work per week and has the potential for future migration, also makes the country attractive. However, young Brazilians lead precarious lives in Australia. They are transitioning into adulthood, living away from the homeland and without their families for the first time and they experience downward mobility. In addition, they are at the mercy of constant changes in Australian migration policy.
Thus, religious institutions and communities have become key to support them in their everyday lives in Australia. As they travel alone, religious leaders become de-facto parents and other congregants their family. At these institutions they can speak Portuguese, network to find jobs, accommodation and learn about the new country while having a sense of belonging and being visible, something many they don’t feel in Australia.