An ageing population means that doctors and nurses from overseas are likely to continue being in demand in Australia.

Data suggests that the older generation in the country is set to continue growing by 3.5% each year until 2022 and migration policies are to be adjusted to attract and retain skilled health professionals.

Medical practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals are set to be prioritised and in the current financial year the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has allocated 13,872 positions for registered nurses, 3,558 for general medical practitioners and 6,000 for medical specialists such as surgeons and anaesthetists.


There are calls for the process to be speeded up as applicants for these kinds of jobs from overseas need to go through a skill assessment process that can take months to complete through the Medical Board of Australia or the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council.

This is necessary to make sure that applicants have the right skills level and qualifications which are comparable to Australian medical professional skills. This involves examining not just certificates but their English language skills, work experience and registrations.

A DIBP spokesman said that consideration is being given to reducing the time involved. General practitioners or specialists can apply for a visa to work in Australia if they have obtained their primary medical qualification in a country other than Australia or gained their medical qualifications in Australia and are not an Australian permanent resident.

Some doctors coming to Australia to undertake a supervised training programme may be able to apply for an Occupational Trainee visa for up to 12 months. The doctor must be appointed to a designated training position that is not primarily service providing in nature.

Nurses are currently in high demand in Australia with opportunities for permanent and temporary work available at hospitals, nursing homes and medical centres. There is greater demand for nurses in regional areas and usually the employment conditions are more generous when the work is located outside the capital cities.

Meanwhile, there are reports that more visa reforms are under consideration to create stronger controls over access to permanent residency and citizenship. Concerns have been raised in a draft documents that new migrants are being targeted by radicals.

Under consideration is a revamped citizenship test and pledge, constant assessment of refugees and a framework to consider migrants' suitability for life in Australia.