Visa holders in flood hit Queensland should seek advice, immigration dept says

by Ray Clancy on January 10, 2011

in Australia Immigration

Queensland affecting temp visa holders

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said it is working to support visa holders in Queensland and northern New South Wales who may be affected by the devastating floods.

A spokesman said that DIAC is aware there are significant numbers of temporary visa holders, including overseas workers and tourists, as well as migrants, in flood affected areas.

He said that if people in the affected areas hold a visa which is about to expire, or work for a business which has been affected, or are otherwise concerned about their immigration status, they should contact DIAC as soon as possible to discuss their circumstances and options available.

The department is also in contact with employers of visa holders in affected areas to offer advice and assistance. Businesses and sponsors who are concerned about the possible impacts on their overseas workers should also contact DIAC.

The Australian Government is continuing to support the Queensland Government by providing assistance to communities affected by the floods and monitoring the situation.

Latest reports suggest that there is still no end in sight for the Queensland flood crisis, as the number of swamped towns and cities continues to grow. Authorities are particularly worried about two major rivers that are rising fast.

The state’s southeast continues to bear the brunt of flooding, after being drenched during the weekend and authorities are focused on two main areas of concern, Gympie and Dalby.

In Gympie, the Mary River is rising rapidly and is expected to reach the major flood level of around 20 metres on Monday night. The Bureau of Meteorology has warned the river could go even higher than that.

Residents in Brisbane have been warned to prepare for localised flooding. Emergency Management Queensland says people in Brisbane, Maryborough, the Sunshine Coast and surrounding areas need to be prepared for heavy rain and possible flooding.

Queensland is experiencing its worst floods in 50 years, forcing the evacuation of 4,000 people and affecting about a million square kilometers, an area the size of France and Germany.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has estimated the bill from the disaster, which has closed mines and spoiled crops, may be more than Aus$5 billion. The state is Australia’s largest coal exporter and accounts for about 20% of the nation’s Aus$1.3 trillion economy.

Eleven people have died in floodwaters in the past few weeks and an estimated 200,000 people in the state have been affected, according to Queensland police. The federal government has received over 8,000 claims for emergency assistance.

The government will also subsidize those whose salaries have been cut because of floods. ‘We’ve seen extreme weather events in many parts of the country. There are a lot of Australians doing it tough facing very stressful circumstances,’ said Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Australia had its third wettest year on record in 2010, according to the weather bureau, which says showers and storms will continue across Queensland this week.

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