Of Visas And Viruses
Temporary visa holders and recent permanent migrants play a vital role in healthcare and the economy — and that’s just one reason why the rules need to keep evolving during the current crisis.
At last count, for example, 2225 registered nurses were in Australia on temporary skills visas. Each month, on average, the visas of fifty of them will expire. Their departure would further deplete an already stretched health workforce.
Elsewhere in the healthcare workforce, according to a forthcoming paper by demographers Peter McDonald and Helen Moyle, temporary migrants account for more than 5 per cent of general practitioners and resident medical officers, and close to 10 per cent of the nursing support and personal care workforce. Again, if they were to leave because their visas expire or because they want to be with their families during the pandemic, our capacity to run hospitals, aged-care and disability services would be compromised.
The rules faced by temporary migrants might seem a secondary concern in the current crisis, if not for the fact that they make up a large group in the community with their own rights and responsibilities, and many of them are performing vital roles. Sending them home when their current visas expire would pose risks to public health and their own welfare, create shortages of workers in vital sectors, and breach Australia’s global responsibilities.
Read the full article by our Lead Moderator Peter Mares and Henry Sherrell here.
via Inside Story , 21 March 2020