I always thought I was a proud Australian. Throughout twenty years of living in the United Kingdom, I often met with those well-tested and worn out clichés of “convict pasts” and Skippy the bush kangaroos, and mostly laughed them all off, except in the early years when the stereotypes all became a bit much, and I would bite back with a sarcastic remark when my sensitivities were wounded.
I woke up this morning with a rude start at this morning to the stark realisation that I am, at this precise moment, not proud to be Australian at all.
When I met my husband, I said outright to him that I didn’t want to get involved romantically with anyone, as I would want to return to
to live and grow old. Well, it took a
lot longer than desired, but true enough to his word, Paul first flew to Australia
with a valid permanent spousal visa in November 2011 in order to activate
The process of emigration was long, painful and expensive. As the main driving force behind the progress of his visa, I stuck the process out and doggedly persevered, even whilst undergoing IVF and maintaining a full time job. It was a closure of one link in the chain that finally saw us managing to sell our house in Hertfordshire and a lot of our possessions by the end of August and saw us touch-down on Australian soil at Brisbane Airport the evening of 12th September, 2013, with four suitcases and two over-tired toddlers in tow.
Paul has attacked the job search with enthusiasm and determination, and I can say that I am very proud of him for that. These qualities have diminished and faded as the weeks have gone by, and I have often said to him “keep going – don’t give up” or much stronger words to the same effect.
He is a highly qualified railway engineer with twenty years experience of one of the most sophisticated locomotive systems in the world. Eurostar International was regarded as an elite institution within the rail industry and Paul mostly took a lot of pride in his work.
During the latter years, Paul has undertaken a lot of extra-curricular study in order to gain new European standard “F gas” qualifications in air-conditioning and refrigeration. He has garnered enough certificates over the years to be able to plaster half the rooms in this house. But for
this is not good enough. Australia
When Paul has become dejected or disheartened thus far in his job search, he would say to me “this country is de-skilling me”. I never believed this was true, until this morning.
I have accepted that
(or more importantly and objectively, a section of its employers) won’t
recognise his prior qualifications in electro-mechanical engineering. Most of the jobs Paul has applied so far for
have been considerably beneath his skill and competence level. So after a bit of research, we both have
started the process of getting the above recognised through the “Recognition of
Prior Learning” route which Paul has discovered through conversations with
trades people. This is conducted by
“Skills Tech”, an organisation allied with the TAFE (Technical and Further
Education) colleges which teach most of the qualifications for “tradies” here,
if not throughout Australia ,
then certainly in Australia . Queensland
I originally thought that this particular piece of work was going to cost $400, but discovered by email late yesterday afternoon that we would, in fact, get a bill for $2,400. I thought “ok, another financial hit” – but kept that information to myself for the time being.
After thinking a bit further about options, Paul has yesterday come to the agreement to seek temporary work while this process would be completed, as we have now realised that it would be futile and soul-destroying to continue to apply for jobs until he has obtained that first raft of recognised Australian qualifications.
He is not even sure whether he will pursue the recognition of his air-conditioning and refrigeration qualifications at this stage – our money and equity for a potential future home are disappearing faster than a lottery winner’s intent to spend it.
When I made an appointment for him with a temporary recruitment agency yesterday afternoon, and mentioned that Paul had a forklift driver’s licence, the agent on the other end of the phone said “nope – not even that is recognised”. And that was the end of the line for me. Amongst the myriad of higher and tertiary qualifications in Paul’s arsenal, for not even a forklift licence to be recognised – that is truly a de-skilling process indeed and an absolute disgrace.
And it is totally not fair. When Paul has said to me “if I knew then what I know now I would never have come” – the first time, it made me really angry. The second time, I cried and was so upset at the thought that we would potentially turn around and return to the
. Now I realise that I totally agree with
It is an appalling arrogance and at worse, a total con for Australia to have recruitment fairs in London and one year to say “we need you – your skills are in short supply – please come over”, and in the next year turn your back on someone who has spent a lot of money and sacrificed a great many things to get here.
We have spent too much money to go back. We will have spent a great deal more money on getting Paul trained and re-skilled, armed with the appropriate Australian equivalent qualifications. Our dreams of having a decent standard of living in our own home by the ocean somewhere are rapidly disappearing.
I believe in dogged persistence and determination to achieve your goals. I have often raised a harrying war-cry and had angry outbursts at Paul or other close friends who didn’t want to see things through to a particular end. I will grit my teeth and stand by Paul to see this painful and expensive process through – but with the realisation and the awareness that this system is not right.
– I wonder how many other skilled tradespeople you have conned like this. My family now believe that these
organisations are set up to make money.
I am not talking about the appropriate training and experience for
apprentices, but about recognising the skills and qualifications of immigrants
who make it through Australia ’s
stringent process. (I do agree with a
very stringent immigration process – you have to absolutely want to come, and
have researched it through to the end – no argument with that, whatsoever.) What
I am talking about is opening one door in invitation to come to that country,
and then closing that door before an appropriate job can be obtained. By the way, the door marked “exit” to the
country is closed, too – because we would have lost too much to go back. Australia
So the only way is forward. I am (mostly) very happy to be home. I am delirious to be able to spend a lot of quality time (maybe too much!) with close family. I hope to spend more time with friends of very long standing, in the foreseeable future. And I am also very happy for my twin sons to be able to grow up as Aussies, and be granted the chances to travel the world; for whatever path they take or whichever global location in which they choose to live, to have their professional skills and experience to be recognised and valued internationally in order to be able to live and work in different lands and to experience different cultures.
Because I would hate for them to have to go through what we are living through now. When Paul quipped about how living in a shack on the beach would be all we could afford to do in
I ordered an abundance of good luck the other day. I am waiting patiently for it to arrive!