Helping Deliver Skills for Flood Reconstruction

The government has announced fast-track processing of 457 visa applications specifically for reconstruction jobs in flood-affected areas, providing quick access to skilled overseas labour where local supply is insufficient.

The subclass 457 visa provides a fast and flexible route for the entry of skilled workers to Australia. Under the program, a wide variety of skilled construction and engineering occupations are available for sponsorship, and employers can sponsor skilled workers for up to four years with no limit on the number of workers they sponsor.

The government is offering personalised assistance with visa applications to employers involved in reconstruction work so that they provide assistance to the reconstruction effort.

The 457 program is available to businesses of any size – in fact, the vast majority of sponsors approved for the 457 program are small to medium enterprises.

Free Seminars for Skilled Migrants in Victoria

Skilled migrants who have recently arrived in Australia can get expert advice on finding work in selected occupations at free seminars in Victoria.

The seminars will be held in Melbourne and regional Victoria, and will feature a panel of experts to answer questions and cover topics including:

* an overview of the labour market in Victoria for each occupation
* how to prepare for work in Australia
* how to write a resume for an Australian employer
* where workers for each occupation are needed most in Victoria.

Migrants who attend will also have the opportunity to network with a range of industry professionals, recruiters and other industry experts.

Please note that these seminars are for skilled migrant visa holders only. Other interested parties are advised to email for further information.

Intern rules leave medical students on the outer

MOST international medical students studying in NSW were never told they might be denied hospital internship places that are a vital part of their training, a survey has found.

Australia is facing a doctor shortage but is wasting the opportunity to hold on to talented medical graduates by forcing them back overseas to finish their training, according to the Australian Medical Association, which commissioned the survey.

Many of the students came to Australia before the rules were changed in 2009, giving international students access to internships only once all Australians and New Zealanders trained in Australia and overseas-trained applicants were employed.
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A survey of overseas students in NSW has found 72 per cent were not told when they came to Australia that they were not guaranteed a hospital internship.

Nearly half said if they had been told they would not have chosen to study here.

Haley Cochrane, 26, a second-year medical student from Canada, said that without the internship “no one in the world would hire you”. “You are not really qualified to do anything without it. You are saddled with $300,000 worth of debt and no job.”

Ms Cochrane, who studies at the University of Sydney, knew she was not guaranteed a place but hoped things might change once she had her degree. After studying here, she would have liked to stay, but her best option might be to apply for a placement in the US.

The chairman of the medical association’s NSW council, Saxon Smith, said the poor information on internships blighted Australia’s international standing.

It was particularly unfair on students who were unaware of the rules.

“The international students are full-fee-paying students so the reality is they cover the cost of their degrees and probably there is some subsidy going on for the Australian students,” Dr Saxon said.

“I don’t think it is an ethically responsible approach if they are not being told up front.”

Dr Saxon said the government should consider providing more private hospital training places to fill the shortfall, as the problem would only worsen as student numbers increased.

In August the Herald reported that more than 100 students had been denied internships in public hospitals this year.

But according to research prepared by Dr Saxon, by 2014 there could be a shortfall of about 2250 internship positions, meaning both local and international students would miss out.

Immigration department under stress

A secret briefing to the Immigration Minister confirms his department is under ”stress” from a flood of asylum-seekers, just as the navy intercepted the first boat of the year. The incoming government red book warns of potential legal action from skilled migrants unable to get their visas processed because of a backlog of 140,000 applicants.It also predicts further riots from the detained Indonesian crews of asylum-seeker boats and warns immigration detention facilities are at ”critical pressure”. After the navy revealed yesterday it had stopped a boat carrying 92 people on Tuesday, the Opposition said more than 10,000 people had now landed in boats under Labor’s three-year watch.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government is also disputing media reports that an asylum-seeker forcibly returned to Sri Lankan was beaten after being arrested on his arrival.The person was one of seven Sri Lankans removed from Christmas Island.

The information is contained in separate confidential Immigration Department briefing papers issued yesterday under Freedom of Information.” One client who was involuntary removed was arrested by Sri Lankan authorities upon their arrival in Sri Lanka,” the paper says.

”Media reports that he was beaten have not been substantiated by the department’s investigations.”The weekly ”On the Radar” briefings to the Immigration Minister also show a Pacific Island worker, allowed into Australia temporarily for fruit picking, absconded. After he handed himself in to authorities two months later, he was allowed to remain to finish the work before returning home.

The briefings reveal a ”marked increase” in cancellation of second working holiday visas for young foreign people returning to Australia for more casual work due to fraudulent information provided to immigration officials.

The minister was told that 308 staff of his department has accepted voluntary redundancies, described by departmental secretary Andrew Metcalfe as a ”good outcome” towards the savings the department has to find.

Review of the Business Skills Visa Program

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is conducting a comprehensive review of the Business Skills visa program to:
Determine whether the program is meeting its intended objectives and if any adjustments are necessary.
Determine what role the Business Skills program should play in building Australia’s economy, including the economies of regional Australia.
Ensure that the program aligns with and contributes to the broader strategic objectives of the Skilled Migration Program.
The department is seeking input from the general Australian public and interested stakeholders into this review. Written feedback is sought by 11 February 2011 and can be emailed to:
The Director
Sponsored Skilled Migration Policy Section
Date: 24/

Migration logjam hits skilled workers

MORE than 140,000 skilled migrants are caught in an Immigration Department processing backlog of up to 28 months.

Business leaders are warning of a looming skills shortage and a wages breakout driven by a resurgent economy.

In a secret briefing to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, the department warned of potential legal action by skilled migrants unable to get a decision on their applications. The department also said that, in order to offset the ageing of the workforce, migration would need to remain at levels that would lead to Australia having a population of 35.9 million by 2050 – the figure that sparked the “big Australia” debate and Julia Gillard’s promise of a sustainable Australia.

Despite cuts to migration levels that would cause net overseas migration to plateau at about 190,000 a year by 2012, the Red Book briefing said net overseas migration would still be above the 180,000-a-year level used by Treasury in the 2010 Inter-Generational Report, when it calculated the figure of 35.9 million by 2050.