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Visa changes highlight need for aged care workforce strategy

Aged care providers are concerned the sudden overhaul of the 457 visa scheme could negatively impact aged care recruitment, particularly in rural areas. 

Yesterday the Federal Government made a sudden announcement of the “abolition” of the 457 visas, which brings temporary foreign skilled workers into Australia, in favour of two new temporary visas.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said 457 visas would no longer be “passports to jobs” that “could and should go to Australians.”

He made the announcement on his Facebook page yesterday:

457 Visas

Hear it here first – we're putting jobs first and we’re putting Australians first by abolishing 457 visas. Watch the clip below to find out what these reforms mean.

Posted by Malcolm Turnbull on Monday, 17 April 2017

 

The government is replacing the 457 visa with a new Temporary Skill Shortage visa, comprised of a short-term stream of up to two years and a medium-term stream of up to four years.

The government also reduced the number of occupations on the skills shortage list.

Details on the new scheme are available on the Department of Immigration website.

Aged care impact

Some aged care providers who currently use the migration system largely to recruit registered nurses may be among the employers affected.

Sean Rooney

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said that while aged care has not been included in the list of occupations being culled from the 457 visa program, he is seeking clarification from the government on a number of issues that have the potential to impact the industry.

“These include potential changes to mandatory labour market testing and limitations to the number of times visas can be renewed,” he told AAA.

Providers outside the major capital cities are already experiencing substantial challenges in recruiting the skilled labour and any increase in the burden, through more onerous mandatory labour testing, is likely to exacerbate an already difficult situation, he said.

“This situation could be made even more problematic for aged care service providers who, when they able to secure the necessary skilled migrant workers, will have to overcome the additional hurdle of the worker being allowed only one onshore visa renewal under the Short Term Stream, after just two years,” Mr Rooney said.

Pat Sparrow

Pat Sparrow, CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia, said the concern of providers was that older people received the services they need no matter where they live.

“Aged care providers want to employ locally educated health professionals, but sometimes that is difficult in remote and rural Australia, so some providers have to depend on professional health care workers coming into Australia on the 457 visa program,” Ms Sparrow told AAA.

“We need to see the detail of what is in the proposed replacement for 457 visas, but this issue demonstrates the importance of an industry-led aged care workforce strategy and consultation with the aged care industry,” she said.

In recent years industry peak bodies as well as the former Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) have called on the government to include personal care workers in the skilled migration programs.

The former Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan also lobbied the then Minister for Immigration to consider adding personal care workers to the list.

In 2014 ethno-specific provider Fronditha Care sponsored 60 overseas personal care workers in the first such agreement to be struck with the Commonwealth.

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4 Responses to Visa changes highlight need for aged care workforce strategy

  1. Maree April 20, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

    Interesting, but show us the “Extensive advertising ” that these providers are required to carry out prior to signing up 457 visas! How about Rural providers offering incentives to our own citizens first, similar to the scheme offered to Doctors?

  2. Caroline April 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

    I’m curious about the ‘locally educated health professionals’ that providers need but can’t access, therefore needing to recruit and bring in on 457s. The landscape of care is often different creating some conflict between older adults and the people that care for them. I don’t mind the recruitment of health professionals but I think incentives, as Maree identifies, could also address some of those professional gaps. The same goes for AIN/PCAs, community workers and similar who could relocate with incentives like assistance with housing, utilities, transport, etc.

  3. Dave April 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm #

    Really? You might want to ‘recruit locally educated health professionals’…you just don’t want to pay for them.

    This a smokescreen: address the pay disparity in aged care and you wont need to import cheap labour. There’s a very good reason why locals wont accept the roles your 457 ‘professional health care workers’ are clambering for…they’re not interested in being paid up to 17% less than the public sector.

    And 457 visa holders also provide the added bonus of generally being unfamiliar with their workplace rights. They’re hoping to secure permanent status, so they’ll do as they’re told and wont make waves.

    Cheap, plentiful and subservient…what’s not to like?

  4. Bella April 27, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

    I think Aussies deserve Permanent jobs in the aged care industry, not casual work, where they live from week to week.
    I’ve worked in area and have a mother receiving services. How frustrating it is for her to have different people from different countries attending to her, most of whom she cannot understand, because of their thick accents, some speak little English, and this only makes the care more onerous for the person receiving care.
    Recruit Aussies, change from casual to permanent, give them proper hours, a break for lunch, and pay good petrol if they are doing home care / packages.

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