Praviin Kulkarni got his Australian permanent residency visa in the nick of time. About five years ago, he and his wife Arti had decided to move from their native India to a country with better career prospects for their sons Ashish and Aditya, who were teenagers at the time.
“When I applied for a visa, I was almost 43 years old,” Praviin says. “Being the primary applicant, it was very important for me to get it before the age of 45 – that was the cut off age for the permanent residency visa, and the process can take over a year.”
Thankfully, the visa came through. Then the family faced a new challenge: because his boys had to finish their studies in India and Arti was supporting Praviin’s ageing parents, Praviin moved to Australia on his own to start building a life for their family – kickstarting a years-long period of separation that was exacerbated by COVID lockdowns and border closures.
Aditya finished his high school studies and was the next family member to move over. Then in April of 2021, Ashish did 14 days of quarantine in Darwin and travelled through to Melbourne, followed by Arti one month later.
The family was finally back together, so it was time to focus on their next goal: buying a house in their new home state of Victoria. But house prices were soaring, and the Kulkarnis’ savings were depleted through the move, paying rent and an unfavourable currency conversion. “We had worries because we thought we wouldn’t be able to save up for a deposit,” Praviin says. “The currency valuation of the rupee to the Australian dollar is such that it was just not possible.”
After attending several inspections and auctions with no luck, Praviin started looking around for options to help with housing affordability. He came across the Victorian Homebuyer Fund – a scheme where the Victorian Government contributes to a home’s purchase price in exchange for an equivalent share in the property. He was one of the first people to apply.
“It was very easy,” he remembers. “I went onto the website, checked the eligibility and started the application. It’s a very self-driven process.”
They had the choice of two banks and ultimately went with Bank Australia.
“The very next day – a Saturday – I got an email from Carly at Bank Australia,” says Praviin. “It was a welcoming email. She was very polite and explained the scheme.” From there, the entire process was digital. “I never even had to speak to her on the phone,” Praviin remembers. “It was all done via email, but the process was seamless.”
They ended up buying a house in a peaceful pocket of Lynbrook in Melbourne’s east, close to amenities, major roads, and the couple’s workplaces. The four-bedroom house has multiple living areas and plenty of room to work, study and relax as a family. After living in apartments for most of their lives, the Kulkarnis are loving the extra space, including the outdoor area. “I’ve become more active having the backyard,” Praviin says. “I’ve started looking after the grass and have put in some seeds and plants.”
The family is also settling into the local community and meeting their neighbours. Arti is volunteering at the nearby Vinnie’s and will soon be joining in on the activities at the community centre. “It’s just in the beginning stage, but we will get there,” she says.
After the years-long journey to get to this point, the Kulkarnis feel a sense of relief and joy at finally having a place to settle down together. “Getting this home has been a boon for our family,” Arti says. “It means a lot of permanence in life. It’s a very welcome and happy ending for our journey of struggle.”
“We couldn’t have done this without Bank Australia or the Victorian Homebuyer Fund,” adds Praviin.
Find out more about the Victorian Homebuyer Fund, the eligibility terms and how to apply.