22 February 2005

New Australian visa attracts skilled migrants to Victoria

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A new Australian visa initiative to attract skilled migrants to Victoria and other regional areas of Australia is set to increase the number of migrants in these areas.

In a report issued in August 2004, recommendations were made to introduce new Australian visas, such as the Skilled Independent Regional (SIR) visa, to attract skilled migrants to regional areas in Australia like Victoria. The Commonwealth/Victoria Working Party on Migration Final Report also recommended overseas students who had studied in Australia for two years be encourages applying for the Australian SIR visa while they are still in the country.

‘The main difference between the SIR visa and a general skilled visa for Australia, is that the SIR requires a commitment to living and working in regional or low population growth area for a minimum of two years,’ said Oonagh Baerveldt, Visa Bureau spokesperson. ‘The Australian government is dedicated to attracting skilled migrants to make up for predicted skills shortfalls in their own ageing population. The SIR program is just one of the recruiting methods they’re using.’

The Commonwealth/Victoria Working Party on Migration Final Report further recommended introducing communications and marketing strategies to inform employers, particularly in regional Victoria, about visa options and services available to employ skilled migrants. The report also encouraged strengthening the uptake of employing skilled migrants through the Regional Outreach Officers network, to assist local employers wishing to employ skilled migrants, and supporting the Australian Government’s intention to increase humanitarian entrants’ settlement in regional Australia.

The report supports, in principle, a pilot project to identify one or more locations in regional Victoria to settle a number of families, where employment opportunities exist and appropriate community support services can be developed.

‘These mechanisms help State and Territory Governments directly address their skill and population needs and are a further example of the Australian Government’s commitment to assisting development in regional Australia,’ Senator Vanstone said.

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