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Migration Centre of South Australia

Health sector needs 457 visas


5/4/ 2013

Immigration Department figures show the South Australian Government is the state's highest employer of 457 visa holders.

Almost 20 per cent of the state's 1360 workers on 457 visas are employed in the public sector.

The visas are available to overseas workers to address skills shortages, with holders restricted to working for their sponsor.

Unions claim the visas are being exploited by employers to create a cheaper and more compliant workforce.

The Federal Government wants to crackdown on the program, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard claiming it is "out of control."

Figures released by Federal Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor yesterday show 457 visa approvals in South Australia from mid-2012 to the end of February rose by 12 per cent on the same period a year ago.

South Australia's Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Tom Kenyon says most of the public sector employees on 457 visas work in health.

He says the visas fill short term vacancies and training programs are in place to fill the positions in the long term.

"My information is that about 93 per cent in fact are in fact employed in the health portfolio, so it's resident medical officers, registrars, nurses and medical practitioners in general, " he said.

"They're skills we may not have to hand immediately and we need.

"It is a stop-gap measure. We're not using these 457 visa positions permanently. We're looking to train our own people. We've put more money into training in the last few years than we ever have before.

"In the meantime there's skills gaps and we fill those skills gaps in the short-term by using 457 visas."

State president of the Australian Medical Association, Peter Sharley, agrees the workers make an important contribution.

"They form an essential part of the skill mix, the experience and the sheer numbers required to make the public hospitals function, to make the rural workforce viable, " he said.

Compiled from ABCNews



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