Tasmania’s ‘first Sikh couple’ moved from Malaysia to Australia five decades ago. Here’s their story.

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Kulwant Singh Dhillon and Mohinder Kaur Dhillon at the their Tasmania residence – Photo: Supplied / SBS Punjabi
By Preetinder Grewal | AUSTRALIA |

Kulwant Singh Dhillon and his wife Mohinder Kaur Dhillon migrated to Australia from Malaysia in 1969.

The Indian-Malaysian couple, both retired schoolteachers say they are ‘blessed to be living’ in the Tasmanian city of Launceston.

“We have such a lovely experience to share with everyone. Throughout our years here, we have been nurtured with love and support from the locals and have built fantastic relationships with people living in this area,” said Mr Dhillon.

“It was the local social fabric based on love, acceptance and positive guidance, that helped us thrive in our chosen part of the world.”

She came to Tasmania for training at Launceston Teachers College in 1963.

In 1964, she returned to her home city of Ipoh in Malaysia, where she started her career in teaching at a local school.

She met Mr Dhillon, who had recently returned from England after completing his studies on a scholarship-based program, at the school. They got married in 1965.

Mrs Dhillon said it was the ‘political unrest’ in Malaysia in 1969 which led to the decision to move out of the country.

“We first had an approval for Canada where we were supposed to work in Winnipeg, as per the visa arrangements. But once I shared this news with my foster parents Charles and Molly [in Tasmania], they convinced us to make a move to Australia.”

Mrs Dhillon said that Australia’s visa approval at that time, was a rather difficult task due to the White Australia policy.

“It wouldn’t have been easy without my foster parents’ visa sponsorship. I am very thankful for all they have done for me and my family,” she said.

Read the full story, ‘Tasmania’s ‘first Sikh couple’ reflects on 50 years of ‘love and support’ in Australia’ (SBS Punjabi, 27 Aug 2020), here.

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