Monday, February 13, 2006

Generation eXpat: Beyond the cultural cringe

A comrade of mine, Ryan Heath, has written a book about the generation of young Australians who live overseas – why they leave and why they really hope to come back and what it means for Australia if they don’t. There's a launch here in London on March 9th. Here's a bit of an extract:

"More than 250 million people in India are aged 18-35. Imagine if 25 million of them - 97% of them professionals - decided to move overseas and spend their most productive years in England. What would happen to India? If that seems far-fetched, then imagine if you woke up tomorrow and Australia had an unemployment rate of 12 per cent or 15 per cent, instead of 5 per cent.

Why? Because the equivalent is happening in Australia right now. As you read this, ten per cent of our 18-35 year olds live overseas. Almost all of them are highly skilled, and only some of them plan to return. It’s not a cultural cringe – we know Australia can be great when it tries. The problem is it doesn’t try that often anymore.

But instead of working hard to lure talented Australians back to their home – our institutions actively push them away. The week before Christmas I received a letter saying that I had 14 days to re-register with the Electoral Commission or be thrown off the voting roll. No email, no phone call (why did I provide these details in the first place?) and given the Christmas mail surge, no chance that the letter would make the stated deadline.

Like thousands of other young Australians, I love Australia but I can’t even vote. Now I’m just a number: one of 1.2 million members of Generation eXpat..............."

Read the rest of the extract, and check out how to buy Ryan's book here.

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