England is special. The emotional pull of the 'old country' has still not entirely departed from the Australian psyche. Many young Australians head for England not only for a working holiday, but to follow-up on family links or family history, and to experience the atmosphere they have read about in story books (or been told about by older relatives) since they were tiny tots.
The UK Ancestry Visa system provides many young Australians with an English parent or grandparent an entry point which is considerably superior to the two-year work visa system that other young Australians require.
From England, which now regards itself very much part of a greater Europe, it is only a hop and step to all the other attractions of the Continent and beyond; whatever the interests of the young person may be, they are excited to be able to follow their dreams in a way that is totally impractical from Australia.
Although the young people may expect the social life (especially in the Anglo cultures of England, the USA and Canada) to be similar to Australia, they soon find out that there are major cultural differences, and they learn to adjust quickly to their new situation. Those who go to Asia or Continental Europe have the added barrier of working and socialising in a new language.
Just like the wide variety of young travellers we meet here in Australia, individuals with different personalities choose to embrace their new cultural experiences in different ways. Some reject the company of others 'from home' because they prefer to mix with the locals and learn new ways of living and thinking; while others find comfort and a balm to homesickness by sticking with other Aussie travellers and comparing and sharing their new experiences.
For most young travellers, there comes an end to their footloose days, and their return 'home' is inevitable.
For those with links to their former job, or those who have just deferred their studies, there is no problem with finding gainful employment or taking up further education (even if they change their course because of their overseas experiences).
However, for many others, the task of settling back into their 'old' life is fraught with difficulties; whether we are thinking of those we love who are returning to Australia, or whether we are imagining the overseas friends we have met going back to their home countries after their experience of our Aussie wide open spaces and friendly faces.
All over the world at the moment, finding a job is problematic. Even if a job is offered, sometimes it is not at the same level of responsibility or status as one they may have had overseas.
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson, whose own son spent seven years in England before returning home to Australia, knows several young Australians who have found themselves in the latter category.
Conversely, Mark Tronson's relatives regularly host young overseas travellers from Asia and Europe, and these youngsters write back reporting similar difficulties when they return to their homes.
Difficulty settling 'back in' at home is a well known among the various organisations that organise overseas exchanges for high school teenagers. A bond is formed when youngsters need to fend for themselves; the friends the travellers make and the experiences they share with other travellers and people in their adopted culture form a support network that is nothing like their 'old' friendships, which can now seem rather shallow and mundane.
Sometimes, although they yearn to be back with their families (and the families love to have them back), they cannot settle into the former friendships as they have grown in quite different directions from their mates who stayed home. They are not the same people who went away, those years or months ago.
And then there is still the need to find something worthwhile to occupy them.
All over the world, the Global Financial Crisis has left its mark on employment. The statistics may say we are 'coming out of it', but in the meantime companies, public services and educational institutions in Europe, in Britain, all over Asia and in Australia have cut back on hiring.
Who does this hit? It hits the youngsters wanting to start afresh, change direction or returning from travel. They are not looking for entry-level rookie positions, they are looking for more responsibility and challenges that will take advantage of their travel experiences.
All over the world, including Australia, these middle-level positions are those that have been cut. If an opening does arise, it is contended not only by a larger number of external applicants for each of the few positions, but also by internal applicants wanting promotions.
All over the world, young people with relevant experiences and a broader perspective gained by travel and work (or study) in another culture are returning 'home', willing to share their expertise and contribute to their society.
Unfortunately, they are finding it tough to find appropriate employment.
M V Tronson knows the pain and depression his son's friends are feeling; but he spares a thought for those travellers who left sunny Australia to go home to Europe for Christmas in December, only to have to contend with the harshest, coldest winter in many years. This, along with the other known problems of the prodigal sons and daughters, must have only added to their feelings of bewilderment and social dislocation.
"We can only hope and pray for these young travellers," advises Mark Tronson. "Wherever they are, and wherever they have been, we hope that eventually they will be able to work productively and use their wider knowledge to contribute to their own society in a way that benefits all."