Aussie opportunities win out
Dr John Meara at work at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Photo not to be used or reproduced without the permission of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Career opportunities in a richly diverse country prompted a leading American surgeon and his family to become Australian citizens this year.
Dr John Meara first came to Australia to undertake a Fellowship at the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) in Melbourne.
The paediatric plastic and maxillofacial surgeon was impressed with the cosmopolitan land of opportunities that greeted him on arrival in Australia in 1999 and admits that his preconceived image of Australia as a desert containing a small group of people was seriously challenged.
Instead he found a country rich in diversity – of people, climate, landscape and culture.
On completion of his Fellowship in Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery, Dr Meara, together with his wife Ann and daughter Emily, thought seriously about remaining in Australia. But the lure of a great job offer at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles drew them back to the US.
In 2003 RCH head hunted Dr Meara back to Melbourne to fill a newly created position of full-time Director, Department of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, and in 2005 he was promoted to Chief of Surgery. His wife Ann, also a doctor, is currently completing a Fellowship in Dermatology at RCH.
'We felt so proud to be asked to come back to Australia. After being here as permanent residents for just over two years, becoming Australian citizens seemed natural and logical. We thought about it and felt it was the right thing to do,' Dr Meara said.
'We're all happy to be here and Australian citizenship formalises the relationship we have been developing for three years now. We're very proud to be accepted into Australia and be part of the culture and we're honoured to be able to become citizens.'