30 July 2009

Changes to Australia temporary skilled visas to protect foreign workers from exploitation says minister

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The changes to the requirements for Australia temporary skilled visas (subclass 457) will protect Australian wages and conditions and prevent exploitation of foreign workers, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today.

Australia skilled visa

Changes to the Australia Skilled Visa will protect local and foreign workers from exploitation says Australian Immigration minister.

Senator Evans said the range of measures introduced in consultation with industry and unions will ensure skilled overseas workers on temporary skilled visas (subclass 457) are not employed ahead of local workers as the Government's intention was to provide training and job opportunities for Australians.

However, Senator Evans said there are still a great need for temporary skilled migrants in Australia in areas such as mining and healthcare.

The changes include the implementation of formal skills assessments and an increase in the English language requirement for trade occupations from 1 July 2009; the introduction of a market-based minimum salary for temporary overseas workers from mid September 2009; and a requirement that all employers of overseas workers on 457 visas have a strong record of, or demonstrated commitment to, employing local labour.

The Rudd Government has also established Skills Australia to provide independent advice on national skills and training priorities for more than 700,000 new training opportunities over the next three years.

Senator Evans said the number of overseas workers coming to Australia on temporary skilled visas has fallen significantly this year in response to the slowing economy.

'While the number of workers coming to Australia under the scheme has slowed, there will still be demand for skilled overseas workers in some sectors, such as mining and healthcare,' Senator Evans said.

'Where there are demonstrated skills shortages, the temporary skilled migration (457 visa) program provides the capacity for employers to access skilled overseas workers to supplement the local workforce.'

Senator Evans said administrative changes recommended by industry experts last year had resulted in faster and more efficient processing of primary applications for temporary skilled migration visas and other Australian visas by the department.

'The Rudd Government recognises the need for industry to access skilled overseas labour where there are demonstrated skills shortages but it is important that the program complements domestic recruitment and is not used to replace local workers,' the Minister said.


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