PUNYA Atukorale was looking for a change in his life when he came to Australia.

He had experienced war first-hand in his native country of Sri Lanka, and had spent a career in the navy.

When he retired, he knew he wanted a different life and it was one that Australia could offer.

Punya came to Sydney in 2008, and a year later he made the move to Rockhampton where he says he felt welcomed and happy.

"Rockhampton is multicultural and a lot of people from different walks of life (are here)," Punya said.

"I love life in Australia, it's the best."

NEW LIFE: Punya Atukorale moved to Rockhampton in 2009 after retiring from the navy in Sri Lanka. He currently works for Ergon Energy.
NEW LIFE: Punya Atukorale moved to Rockhampton in 2009 after retiring from the navy in Sri Lanka. He currently works for Ergon Energy. Lisa Benoit Roklwalk

Punya, who works at Ergon Energy, said he had the option of immigrating to England or Canada, but says he knew Australia was the country for him.

Punya took part in the Walk Together event held at the PCYC at the weekend.

The nation-wide event is held each year to engage everyday Australians in the task of cultivating a culture of welcome in our nation.

Punya was able to come into Australia through a professional migrant scheme; he says it is a lot harder for refugees or asylum seekers to get processed and make a new life here.

He said it's a difficult issue at the moment.

"If you get people (coming into the country) who are not helpful or unwilling to work it could be trouble," he said.

"At the moment the process to get into Australia is very hard; there were a lot of people immigrating in the 90s when more people were needed, but now there are a lot of people here."



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