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27 Apr 2023

Media releases

Migration reform could activate underutilised talent

Reforms to Australia’s migration system to streamline recognition of overseas skills and experience could activate a motivated but underutilised talent pool, according to leading non-profit organisation Settlement Services International (SSI).

Speaking at the National Press Club today, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil gave an overview of planned reforms to the migration program, including creating more clear pathways to permanent residency, addressing the exploitation of migrants on temporary visas and ensuring the program is better set up to meet Australia’s current and future skills needs.

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said it was welcome to hear Minister O’Neil call for changes to the cumbersome skills and qualification recognition process, which particularly affects migrant women including those on partner visas.

“This is validated by SSI’s own research, which found that refugee women and migrant women lag behind other women in the Australian labour market, despite their relatively high level of skills and qualifications,” she said.

“As far back as 2006, the Productivity Commission has been telling us Australia’s skills assessment and recognition scheme is complex, time-consuming and bureaucratic. It is heartening to see an appetite for change in this space.”

Ms Roumeliotis also welcomed the announcement that by the end of the year, all temporary workers in Australia would have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency.

“Australia should not unintentionally create a class of perpetual temporary residents for whom permanent residency and the associated safety nets are always out of reach. Introducing clear, transparent pathways to permanent residency would reduce prolonged uncertainty for the millions of temporary visa holders currently in Australia,” she said.

“Ultimately, we need a system that is simpler, fairer and gives people agency to plan for their future. 

“Migration policy settings must recognise the importance of people laying roots in our country – having the opportunity to build a career, a family and ultimately, becoming permanent residents and citizens.”

Ms Roumeliotis said at the heart of the changes announced was also a desire to protect the wellbeing of migrants – however long or short their time in Australia.

“A safe and supportive migration system would include robust measures to address exploitation, mistreatment and harassment of newcomers. This is a welcome step forward,” she said.

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