Teacher shares story of moving to Australia
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Anelie Grace Catalogo-Libalib pivots to early childhood after migrating to Australia

Anelie Grace Catalogo-Libalib pivots to early childhood after migrating to Australia

by Freya Lucas

June 09, 2023

Anelie Grace Catalogo-Libalib was a public school teacher in the Philippines for seven years before applying as an international student in Australia, where she then used a Destination Australia scholarship to undertake her Diploma in Early Childhood Education.


In this piece, Ms Catalogo-Libalib shares her story of being an international student in Australia. The article is based on an episode of ‘Trabaho, Visa, atbp,’ a podcast series that features issues and information about migration to Australia every Thursday on SBS Filipino.


Having an international qualification has long been a dream of hers, she explained, and the combination of this dream, and a desire to create a bright future for her children, caused her to pursue her dream of studying and living in Australia. 


Holding a teaching degree, Ms Catalogo-Libalib had taught for seven years in the Philippines before enrolling in the Diploma in Early Childhood Education course in Perth.


“Although I loved teaching in the Philippines, I experienced so much stress with the system, and my salary is not enough to cover our cost of living,” she explained.


According to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in the Philippines, many Filipino teachers are going abroad due to low salaries, with over 90 per cent earning 25,000 to 30,000 pesos monthly.


In 2019, Ms Catalogo-Libalib began researching how to study in Australia and watched videos about the success of some international students. Unfortunately the pandemic made carrying out her plans challenging, and it wasn’t until August 2022 that she was able to begin the application process. 


However, due to the pandemic, her plans were temporarily halted, and it was only in August 2022 that she could apply to come to Australia and start the next phase of her life. 


Aside from fears about missing her family, Ms Catalogo-Libalib was worried that being 40 years of age would be a barrier to coming to Australia, and to pursuing further education. 


“I have read a lot that when you’re 35 years old and above, it becomes very risky unless you take Master’s courses. I was lucky enough to tell my agent that I only wanted to pursue a VET (Vocational and Education Training) course, which has much cheaper tuition fees, and they accepted my application,” she shared. 


While there is no limit to obtaining a student visa in Australia for the purposes of study, there is an age limit for skilled migration eligibility. 


Melbourne-based Registered Migration Agent Em Tanag told SBS Filipino that if applicants plan to reside in Australia permanently, age can play a significant role.


“40-year-old applicants have to consider that they will be studying in Australia for a minimum of two years and will be finished at around 42 or 43 years old,” she explained.


“If the applicant plans to pursue skilled migration, whether through employer sponsorship or independently, there is an age limit of below 45, and so applicants need to be aware that they will have a small window of opportunity to apply for permanent residency.”


In January 2023, Ms Catalogo-Libalib received news that her application as an international student had been approved, and in February, she arrived in Perth.


Within one month she had secured a role in the early childhood sector, and has recently been awarded a full scholarship through the Destination Australia Scholarship, where she will study at TAFE in regional Western Australia.


Ms Catalogo-Libalib said she is grateful for the blessings she has received, but she admits that there are moments when she feels tired and misses her family.


“Sometimes homesickness kicked in, and I cried a lot. I usually pray and try to cope by always talking to my husband and kids through video calls every day. I make friends here and go out occasionally,” she shared.


“I also post videos about my journey in TikTok to relieve stress, but I was surprised to receive many messages from people saying they are inspired and asking about the process. I provided them with information and tips.”


Once she has finished her Diploma, Ms Catalogo-Libalib plans to pursue a teaching qualification, and hopefully settle in Australia long term. 


To access the original coverage of this story, please see here


Readers should note that this piece is intended for general information only, and does not constitute immigration advice. Readers should seek the advice of a trustworthy solicitor or registered migration agent in Australia or contact the Department of Home Affairs for specific advice and support. 

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