“We decided on Victoria because we felt that we would have more opportunities here.”
Dr Alinie Guerreiro and her husband Ricardo moved to Melbourne from São Paulo, Brazil in 2018 with a plan to do a business course while they found their feet in a new country.
Alinie had completed her medical degree at the University of São Paulo in 2015 and worked as a GP before the couple decided to migrate to Victoria.
“I had a plan that maybe I would use the business course to open up my own practice or open a restaurant with my husband – he’s a chef,” Alinie said. “We decided on Victoria because we felt that we would have more opportunities here.”
A few years later they’ve settled in Warrnambool in Victoria’s south west, with Alinie working to complete her training to become a consultant psychiatrist at Warrnambool Hospital and Ricardo running the South American restaurant the couple opened with friends at the beginning of 2020.
While completing her medical board exams to validate her qualification in Australia, Alinie was offered a position as a hospital medical officer at Warrnambool Hospital. When her rotation in psychiatry came around, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the field.
“I was very interested in psychiatry, I applied to the hospital straight away for a psychiatry registrar position,” she said. “Then this year I applied for a training position with the College of Psychiatrists and started my training to become a consultant psychiatrist.”
“It’s an integrated model, so I work in the acute inpatient unit, I see patients in the ED for emergency presentations and I also work with patients in the community as outpatients,” Alinie said. “I usually work in Warrnambool, but South West Healthcare has multiple campuses so I do clinics in Camperdown once a week as well.”
When it came to deciding where to migrate to Alinie was drawn to Victoria’s health system and the variety of opportunities she felt would be available to her as a doctor.
“There are renowned hospitals in all sorts of places in Victoria that I knew I could apply to work at, for me it was about my prospects of finding good jobs in the future,” she said. “We felt that we would have more opportunities here than other states.”
Melbourne’s celebrated food scene was another factor in the couple’s decision to migrate – Alinie and Ricardo knew there were plenty of world-class restaurants he could work in while they planned their own business ventures.
Upon moving to Warrnambool in 2019, they met another couple from South America and in February 2020 together they opened Patacon, a South American eatery serving classic dishes from the owners’ childhoods.
“We weren’t very lucky to open up when we did, but we’ve been able to create some jobs in a difficult economic situation,” Alinie said. “We usually have lots of tourists here, for our business in particular because it’s a different cuisine, so it was tough when the pandemic hit.”
“But with the help of all the government support programs we’ve been able to keep going, and we hope this year will be a chance to grow our business.”
Alinie applied and was nominated for Victoria’s skilled visa program during 2020 and is thriving in her adopted hometown in the state’s south west.
“Coming from overseas as a doctor I felt I had more opportunities to begin with in regional areas, and I’m so glad I found my first job here,” Alinie said.
“Living in regional Victoria is great, it’s not too far away from Melbourne and it’s by the coast. People here are very nice – you walk down the street and everybody greets you with a ‘g’day’, it’s a friendly community.”
While the pandemic presented new challenges for Alinie and her colleagues, she was proud of her ability to continue contributing to her community throughout such a difficult period.
“The majority of the patients I see are acute, it’s hard to treat them effectively via telehealth so I’ve worked in the hospital or community clinics the whole time,” she said. “Working in a regional area that really needs my expertise and in a field where demand is increasing is important to me, I want to look after vulnerable people in my community.”
“That’s why I decided to study medicine and particularly why I like psychiatry – I like to be able to help people in need,” Alinie said. “It’s very rewarding to be recognised as an essential worker, and for me there’s always that pride and satisfaction in helping.”