May 19, 2020, 14:00 PM
For a Yorkshireman travelling around Australia on a working holiday visa, Alex Barnes makes for a very patriotic Australian.
When coronavirus hit in early March, the 28-year old Brit was working as a tent rigger for Victoria-based Silvers Circus, which had just brought its ‘Sesame Street Spectacular’ back from Tasmania and was preparing to set off for South Australia.
Alex was stood down a few days into their Warrnambool tour, but he was not about to sit down in his girlfriend’s South Yarra apartment and wait out the virus like many backpackers.
“My girlfriend’s an ICU nurse at The Alfred and she’s been working incredibly hard, so the last thing I wanted was for her to have the added pressure of looking after me,” says Alex, who used to work at a care home for young autistic adults in the UK.
“Fortunately, Citywide and the Working for Victoria Fund threw me a lifeline at just the right time, offering me an alternative source of income through one of their street cleaning teams.”
Alex says he’s been surprised how much he enjoys the cleaning – which was also part of his role at Silvers and several care homes in the UK.
“Actually, I really like this job,” he says. “We just move around Malvern and other shopping districts, cleaning and sanitising all the high-contact areas that members of the public are likely to touch.
“I’d be perfectly happy to keep this job until my visa runs out in a few months’ time. It’s given me some stability among the chaos, and the main thing is I can help my girlfriend out so she doesn’t have to use up her hard-earned salary paying for me.”
Alex says his next target is to apply for permanent residency, perhaps through a partnership visa, when the COVID saga is over. We reckon he’s already proved his stripes as a true blue Australian.
Simon Mossman - Group Corporate Communications
M 0427 307 216