The Federal budget announced that “The permanent Migration Program will be expanded to 195,000 in 2022–23. This is an increase of 35,000. More than 90 per cent of new places will be for skilled migrants.”
There are currently 674 skilled occupations being sought by the Government in connection with short term visas which allow successful applicants to work up to 4 years in Australia. Amongst deer farmers, auctioneers and managers of betting agencies can be found nurse educators, nurse managers, nurse practitioners nurse researchers and nursing clinical directors.
This looks like a godsend for MiCare which is seeking nursing staff from overseas. But it isn’t that easy. Despite additional funding being provided to accelerate visa processing and reduce backlogs, processing can still take from 44 days to 11 months.
And that’s not all. If the nurses come from another culture there are more factors to consider. Getting the nurses to Australia is one thing. Getting them to start practising in a residential aged care facility is another. For starters, their qualifications need to be recognised in Australia. The relevant assessment can cost up to $17,000. If additional training is required, this can take 3 months. How do they survive in the meantime and who meets the costs?
Initial assistance with accommodation, transport, living expenses, community connections, cultural adjustment and on-site work training need to be factored into the package of incentives to attract nurses to Australia.
In an environment where close to 67% of residential aged care providers are making a loss, selection of overseas staff needs to be very careful to make the costs of the exercise worthwhile in terms of quality, commitment and consumer satisfaction.