Matthew from Sydney
Hello my name is Matthew
On Home & School
I’m aged twenty-two and have lived in Western Sydney all my life. It’s quite a cosmopolitan area with numerous different nationalities. A large Indian community have moved into the area in the last decade which has changed the nature of the suburb quite substantially. The shopping strip, for instance, has a large number of Indian and Sri Lankan stores now, which makes it much more interesting than it used to be.
I went to school at Wentworthville primary school for seven years, a relatively small local public school with a mix of nationalities and quite a few ESL students in the school, so it was an interesting experience to come in contact with numerous different cultures and nationalities.
After finishing primary school I went to MET school, which is our local community Brethren school at Meadowbank for six years. I certainly enjoyed that, learnt a lot, and came out with some good HSC results which is a credit to the quality teachers and small class sizes we enjoyed at MET.
I took on thirteen units in the HSC which is probably a little excessive in hindsight but I enjoyed the challenge. I had started doing accounting certificate III during year 11 and 12 and thought I should see that through to completion, so I finished the advanced diploma of accounting through OTEN which is the distance education version of TAFE. I chose that because it fitted in with my lifestyle as I wanted to work full-time whilst studying.
Having done that, I was able to gain my tax agent registration at the age of nineteen. Following that I’ve been doing further studies with University of New England and with the Tax Institute of Australia. I selected the University of New England again as it suited my preferred lifestyle of working and studying at the same time, made possible with their online education delivery program.
Both my parents grew up in Sydney in the Brethren Church. All of my grandparents were born into families in our Church, as well as several of my great-grandparents from various parts of the world, New Zealand, Australia and UK predominantly. My surname is actually Swedish. My grandfather’s grandfather was born in Gothenburg Sweden where we have members to this day.
I have one twin brother, but no other siblings. We’ve tended to do everything together as we’ve always been very close to each other, being twins, and had similar interests so it is no surprise that he also works in the accounting field.
My parents gave us a very good upbringing; I’d have to put that to their commendation.
There were lots of other children in the area, both within our church and in the broader community at school that I used to know well and talk to. A lot of them have gone different ways since, those that I went to primary school with, but I do occasionally bump into them still, and reflect on happy times in our childhood.
I work as an accountant at a larger accountancy firm.. I initially did work experience at a local accountancy practice while I was doing my accounting module in the HSC in year 11 and 12, which is how I got a job there after I finished school. I worked there for just over two years, and then the firm sold out to UBT in January 2011, and I’ve worked here ever since.
I got my own tax agent registration when I was nineteen years old, so I could set up on my own practice if I wanted to, but I see that as a long-term goal as I feel I’d like to gain a few more skills working in this business first.
I really enjoy being able to relate to lots of businesses, small and medium. We don’t really get into the large-scale corporations but I enjoy working with smaller businesses where you can actually talk to the owners and help them grow their own business.
There’s nothing more satisfying than us being able to help a client do better, either by tax-saving through a structure or a superannuation fund, or merely just giving advice, helping with forecasts to actually get them out of trouble or make their business do better. That’s a good outcome for both of us obviously, and helps build good relationships.
I’ve travelled widely around Australia and visited many of our churches and attended their services in different parts of Australia. I’ve been privileged to do a bit of travelling overseas and have visited five countries outside Australia and thoroughly enjoyed meeting people and seeing the sights.
I enjoy relating to different ways of life apart from our city lifestyle here; seeing how others that might have a farming background or a rural background of some sort get by.
My most recent trip was to South America at the start of this year. I went to Argentina with my brother. We also briefly called into Chile, which was interesting. Flying into Santiago in Chile, through the mountains, is very scenic. The city has relatively tall buildings, but they fade into insignificance compared to the enormous Andes mountain range rising up behind them. The tallest mountain in the range, Mount Aconcagua, is, I think, over 6,000 metres high. So when you’re flying in, the plane does a very fast descent to reach the airport from high altitude.
It actually started as a work trip as there was a short-term accounting project that we had to work on. The Spanish was a bit of a challenge… now we sort of know Spanish financial terminology but we can’t actually make any dinner table conversation! We can talk to you about the debitos and creditos, but not much more than that.
Just experiencing the whole way of life and community and seeing what hardships some persons endure was so interesting, we just don’t normally get to see that. The state of the infrastructure is certainly quite eye-opening as well, not that we want to criticise the government as such, but there obviously is a need for improvement in certain areas.
On the Future
I’d like to purchase my own house at some point in the future, so I’ve been trying to save as much as I can. I haven’t wanted to break that pattern of full-time work, so my studies of late have been by correspondence.
The Sydney property market seems to be going through the roof at the moment, but interest rates thankfully haven’t crept up so high. I’d like to save a little bit more so I can get something in a better area to start with, rather than having to move multiple times up the ladder. I am quite content at home with my parents while they’re prepared to put up with me. But I reckon in the next twelve to twenty-four months I’ll be looking to make a move.
I do plan to marry at some point but it’s a question of meeting the right person at the right time…! There may be a perception that things like that are arranged in our Church, it’s certainly not the case; it’s a matter of arranging it yourself!
On the Brethren Church
Church members do have a quite a bit to do with each other, particularly at church meetings and so on, so there’s plenty of scope to meet different people, and get to know them.
Initially I was a member of the Brethren Church because I was born into it but I certainly wouldn’t be anywhere else. I value the strong Christian culture that’s come down to us from the early beginnings in the 1820s, particularly the holding of the Lord’s Supper (Communion)each week. You might say, well, someone told you to say that. But, no, they haven’t, I say that genuinely based on my experience. We have very strong family values, there’s very little in the way of family breakup. Divorces are very seldom heard of. Children typically grow up within families, and stay there until they commence their own household. There are obviously exceptions, but that is typically the model that we like to follow, and in my opinion there’s no better way to bring up a family.
Amongst our community there’s always someone to go to if you need help about anything, whether it be spiritual, physical, moral or financial, and really any aspect of life. There’s a sense of trust we have of one another and we would freely have other community members into our house, someone you’d never met before from the other side of the world you could give them a bed for the night. That works in both directions. I’ve done it myself; stayed in Brethren households in different countries around the world; some that I’ve never met or heard of before but I have always had a very good time.
As mentioned we hold the Lord’s Supper every week, which I find very enjoyable and strengthening and I certainly don’t like to miss it. All members are encouraged to attend this service from the youngest through to the oldest, and these occasions are generally very well attended.
We attend church every day. I find it quite invigorating after a hard day’s work to go and have a brief pithy Bible reading at one of our church halls in the evening. Typically these only go for half an hour or forty-five minutes, so you’ve still got plenty of time to do other things.
I am very thankful for what our community has done for me. I think that sense of support that we’ve got amongst ourselves, is something to be extremely grateful for, and I intend to carry that on for generations to come.