Hawthorn, Victoria Australia (PressExposure) December 12, 2006 -- When pairing Guide Dogs with blind and vision impaired clients, Steve Palmer-Boyd assesses the pooch's ability, temperament and adaptability before making the perfect match.
Which is just what Guide Dogs Queensland did when it recruited Steve from the United Kingdom to work as a guide dog mobility instructor.
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Amanda Vanstone met Steve today in Brisbane. 'Steve's role with Guide Dogs Queensland highlights the broad use of our skilled migration programmes by employers,' the Minister said.
November 22 marks the third anniversary of Steve and his wife Shelley's arrival in Australia - a journey made possible by the Australian Government's 457 temporary skilled visa programme. The couple, who recently celebrated the arrival of a baby daughter, first came to Australia on a holiday visa.
'Suffice to say, we loved every minute and could not wait to try and get work here and move on over,' Steve said.
Currently there are only about 60 Guide Dogs in training in Queensland, compared to more than 1000 in the United Kingdom, which explains why Guide Dogs Queensland had to recruit from overseas to fill skilled positions in its workforce.
The Minister said temporary skilled migrants played a crucial role in the Australian economy. 'Not only do overseas skilled workers such as Steve help business and industry meet their labour needs, they play a critical role in supporting and training young local workers,' the Minister said.
'Filling skilled labour shortages is critical if business and industry is to sustain its existing workforce and grow in the future to create even more job and training opportunities for young Australians.'
Steve and his family have now been granted permanent residency through the employee nomination scheme and they are proud to say their daughter Elsie May is an Australian citizen. Steve is currently helping to train two labradors and a poodle to be Guide Dogs but says much of his time is spent working with the dogs' future companions.
'I have about 40 clients I work with north of the Brisbane River as far away as Cairns,' he said.
- Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs