Saturday, February 25, 2017

Long promised post: Teaching in Australia pt 1: the struggle to get registered

As previously mentioned, it was not cheap to get registered to teach in the state of Victoria. We had been out of work for months while trying to pay all these fees and such, but we didn't realize that was only the beginning.

There were all the background checks. The VIT requires a background check from all the countries in which you've lived for the last 10 years. Not difficult in theory, but Saudi Arabia straight up doesn't do background checks for people who have left the country. When I called the VIT about this issue, I was basically told, "Tough titties. You gotta figure something out.''


Except not ok because the Saudi embassy in Canberra recommended that I fly to Riyadh and apply for a background check in person.

After at least two more calls to the VIT explaining the situation and offering possible solutions only to be told I would out of luck, someone finally said, "If you can't get a background check you can submit a stat deck."

"I'm sorry, what is a stat deck?" Australia LOVES its acronyms and abbreviations, so people frequently use the abbreviation assuming everyone can keep track of all the nicknames.

"A statutory declaration," she answered, offering no explanation.

"What does that mean?"

Essentially it means that I could write a note that said I solemnly swear I was up to no bad in Saudi Arabia and get it the Australian equivalent of notarized.


So we got the Kuwait background check in no time and wrote up our "stat dec" in no time. It was time to wait for the FBI to come through for us.


When it finally came in, I called the VIT to see if they needed the original background checks or if I could send in notarized copies because, you know, they were expensive and if for some reason the VIT turned out to be undependable and lost them I'd be pissed.

"No, you need to send in the original copies."

Remember that for later. Obvious foreshadowing is obvious.

So the background checks were frustrating. Then there was the confusion surrounding our personal references. We had to have a reference from someone who had known us for more than 2 years....of which there were zero in Australia. Luckily our high school friend Matt was visiting and wrote one for Tyler and I sent our friend-from-Kuwait Austin a reference to fill out and email back to us.

Of course the VIT wouldn't process my application because the personal reference had to be the original handwritten copy rather than a scanned copy. Was there any indication of the need for the original copy anywhere on their website or mention of it in any of the phone calls I made?

Of course Austin doesn't live in Australia, he lives in China now. Thankfully he is amazing and went to the effort to mail the original copy to us. So after months of waiting, we were ready to submit Tyler's application (we submitted mine first because we couldn't afford to pay two registration fees at a time), so we walked his paperwork and Austin's reference to the VIT office to hand it in in person and have a living human look through his paperwork to make sure everything was acceptable.

1. Everything looked great in Tyler's paperwork packet. The receptionist was really confused as to why we would go to the effort of bringing it down in person. So cute.

2. While flipping through his paperwork, she separated out his background checks AND PHOTOCOPIED THEM AND HANDED BACK THE ORIGINALS! What. the. hell?! I had clarified exactly that detail with one of her colleagues a few months back! "WHY DID SHE NOT KEEP THE ORIGINALS!?" I screamed in my head but asked politely in a normal tone out loud.

"Oh we don't need the originals, just notarized copies. You might want to hold on to these for later so we leave the originals with you."

3. When we had cleared that infuriating detail up, I handed over Austin's personal reference. She looked up the status of my application to make sure there was nothing else needed and got a confused look on her face.

"Sorry, why did you need to bring this in?" she asked.

"Because one of your colleagues told me I needed to submit it so my application could be approved."

"Huh. Well your application was approved two weeks ago so we don't really need it."

What. the. hell?!? WHY DID WE PAY SO MUCH MONEY FOR THE APPLICATION FEE IF NO ONE IN THAT DING DANG OFFICE SEEMS TO KNOW HOW THE APPLICATION PROCESS WORKS?!?! Also if my application had been approved two weeks ago, why hadn't I been notified?

"That is strange. You should get a notice in the mail soon," she said with a smile. 

Thanks. You're just. The best. 

But whatever. I was finally registered. No need to rage on the woman. Now it was time to get out there and convince schools that I was the teacher they needed. 

Stay tuned for how THAT went. 

Vicariously yours, 

PS. Remember those original copies of the background check I told you about? Fast forward to a month ago when we find out we need to get - you guessed it- background checks for our immigration visas for Korea. So I contact the VIT and say, "hey guys, remember those background checks? Can I have those back now please? You only need photocopies, right?"

They responded: WE DESTROYED THEM!


Needless to say I am not a huge fan of the VIT. 

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