Yesterday, the Federal Government announced it would be getting rid of the current 457 visas, which is used to bring foreign skilled workers to Australia on a temporary basis, and replace it with two new temporary visas.

Two New Visas

Many aged care providers in Australia are now worried about the potential impact this may have on aged care recruitment, particularly in rural areas.

While aged care has not specifically been named in the list of occupations being affected by the removal of the 457 visa program, CEO of Leading Age Services Australia, Sean Rooney, says clarification from the government on issues that could impact aged care elsewhere is essential:

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

The Federal Government has said the two new temporary visas will include a short-term visa of up to two years, and also a longer one for up to four years.

These new visas will be subject to labour market testing. This means workers applying for the new visas will require a minimum of two years’ work experience, a market salary rate assessment and a new non-discriminatory workforce test.

How it Affects Aged Care

Mr Rooney has already expressed his concerns with the new scheme:

“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,” he said.

CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia, Pat Sparrow, said the main concern for providers now is ensuring that people receive care services, regardless of 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,” she said.

“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.”

The Facts

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the change in visa policy was needed, as it would now be “manifestly, rigorously, resolutely conducted in the national interest to put Australians and Australian jobs first”.

As of June 30, 2016, there were 94,890 primary 457 visa holders in Australia, meaning the total number of primary 457 visa holders who are sponsored by an employer is equal to less than 1 per cent of the Australian labour market.

In relation to the new short and long term visas proposed, 268 occupations will be allowed to apply for the two-year long visa for potential workers, while only 167 will be allowed if they wish to apply for the longer four-year visa.

These changes are now currently in effect, but will not be fully implemented until 2018.