hi all, I'm the OP, and i apologise for not updating this thread for over a year. thank you all for your replies and relevant insights. although i don't really feel the need to maintain my anonymity anymore, i guess i'll still use my original pseudonym for a sense of continuity.
just a quick update on my situation since my initial plea. after checking out a few aikido dojos, i managed to find a dojo really near where i live, where the sensei is possibly the nicest guy around.
Sensei Robert from Aikido Yuishinkai Bentleigh
not only welcomed me to his dojo, he was extremely generous in allowing me to continue grading with my previous dojo/affiliation, of which the most recent was my shodan grading. in my mind, he could've easily insisted that i choose to grade under him, or at least, do a parallel grading, but he thought that unnecessary, and told me that he would recognise my new rank. i'm not 100% sure, but from my limited understanding of how this works, i'm thinking that Sensei Robert is being extremely magnanimous with this. he also no qualms with using me as his uke regularly rather than favouring his "own" students.
Migrating to Australia from a different dojo himself years ago, I think he had similar experiences/worries about the politics and such, so he now warmly welcomes all to his dojo with open arms.
The cherry on top is that my previous dojo will be hosting a seminar/gasshuku in January with a visiting sensei from Japan, and Sensei Robert has signed up to attend the interstate event. I know I'm really plugging him here, but i'm really impressed about how he practices what he preaches. that seems to be rare quality in lots of people IMHO.
so if you're ever down Melbourne (Australia) and wanna have a worry/politic-free training experience, hop on by to Bentleigh!