Shortage of aged care nurses in rural areas of Australia

by Ray Clancy on April 17, 2012

in Australia Immigration, Jobs in Australia

Many aged care nurses recruited for rural areas move to new jobs in cities

There is a shortage of nurses needed to work caring for aged people in rural parts of Australia and the industry is calling for visa rules to be changed to make it easier to recruit from overseas.

The number of nurses coming to work in the aged care sector in Australia on 457 visas is increasing. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said that in the first eight months of this financial year, some 418 aged care nurses have been granted visas, up from 382 in the entire 2010/11 year.

DIAC figures show that most overseas nurses come from India, the UK and the Philippines. From July 2011 to the end of February 2012, visas were granted for 799 nurses from India, 576 from the UK and 333 from the Philippines, which is up from 754, 529 and 252 respectively for the total of the previous year. Numbers are significantly lower than in the peak year of 2008/09 for the UK when there were 1,202 recruited and 946 from India, but comparable for the Philippines at 367.

According to people working in the industry the 457 scheme is useful in attracting nurses to rural and remote areas, however under the current rules once they are in Australia, a 457 visa holder is free to work elsewhere once the new employer agrees to take on their sponsorship. What is happening is that nurses arrive to work in a rural area and then quickly move to other jobs in more popular metropolitan areas.

Julie Christensen, chief executive officer of Narrogin Cottage Homes in Western Australia and coordinator of a network of rural providers in the state, said nurses being recruited on 457 visas should be required to make a commitment in time to the area they are going to. She has suggested a minimum of 12 months.

There are also calls for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) to be changed so that qualified and carers could be eligible for sponsorship by Australian care providers.

Currently the minimum salary requirement of $50,000 needed for the 457 visa and the minimum education requirement of the RSMS (diploma level or higher) effectively rule out overseas qualified carers, many of whom have Certificate III qualifications.

‘This is about getting these programmes right so our members have access to temporary migration schemes to bring people out while they need them,’ said Stephen Kobelke, chief executive officer of Aged and Community Services in Western Australia.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

donna June 25, 2012 at 11:28 am

do any of you know any aged care providers that sponcer workers with level 3 in aged care from the uk on a 457 visa ?

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