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Migration Centre of South Australia

Hello goodbye: skilled migrants leave SA



Around two thirds of skilled migrants are leaving South Australia within a couple of years of arriving, while 
refugees and humanitarian entrants are much more likely to stay here, a parliamentary inquiry has been told.

Despite targeted programs to bring skilled workers to the state, South Australia experienced a net loss, through 
internal migration, of around 1100 migrants over the 2006-2011 period.

“This was second only to New South Wales which is a much larger recipient of migrants, ” State Parliament’s Social 
Development Committee’s review of the migration says.

“Of more concern is the loss of more than 1300 skilled migrants from South Australia.

“This is more than Victoria and only slightly less than New South Wales.”

The committee spent almost three years reviewing the impact of migration on South Australia.

It found that while federal data was able to estimate movement of migrants from one state to another, detailed 
records could not be kept due to privacy restrictions.

Evidence presented by overseas migration agents drew a picture of dissatisfaction among skilled migrants, despite 
incentives to stay.

“..while the South Australian Government, through Immigration SA, has offered some incentives to migrants,  
approximately 60 to 70 per cent would probably only stay in South Australia for about two or three years and then 
move to other states after they have been granted their permanent residency visas to be closer to friends,  
children and for better investment opportunities.

“If they don’t get in through the door and get the opportunity for an interview, they are left out, they become 
dissatisfied, some of them go back and some of them go interstate.

“Therefore, South Australia keeps losing these people who came here because they had those skills that South 
Australia or Australia needed.”

The committee heard that refugee and humanitarian entrants are very likely to live out their lives in South 

While approximately a quarter of all migrants subsequently leave, the corresponding statistic for refugees and 
humanitarian entrants is 12 per cent.

Government agency Multicultural SA told the committee it was difficult to keep track of interstate movements by 

The agency said it has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship,  
over the past few years, to find a way to determine how long new migrants stay in South Australia.

“There are available statistics about the total number of people who move from one state to another but there are 
no collections undertaken to determine the number of new migrants who move from one state to another.

“A major difficulty, according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, is the issue of confidentiality 
and the privacy of individuals.

Multicultural SA told the Committee that it is a requirement of some categories of visa that new migrants inform 
the Department of Immigration and Citizenship when they are moving between states.

However, for the vast majority there is no requirement and people are able to freely move from one place to 
another within Australia.

“They can’t track where people are; once they have come to Australia as residents people don’t get tracked as to 
where they live, ” the agency said.

“People can move from one place to another, whether it be within a state or between states, without being tracked,  
so the data is not collected.”

The committee concluded that the overall economic effect of migration “appears to be a positive one at the state 
and regional level”.

“The emphasis on attracting skilled migrants has resulted in positive labour market outcomes for them.

“According to a report prepared by Independent Economics for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in 
2006, migration raises average incomes and increases the scale of the economy, generating wealth and employment 
for all Australians.”

The report estimated that a continuation of the migration program would increase Australian living standards by 
around $21 billion by 2021-2022.

It recommended changes in language assistance.

“English language proficiency is a key determinant in the overall settlement and labour market success of new 

The strongest economic impact of migration came from overseas students, the report found.

In 2010 more than 34, 000 overseas students were studying in South Australia.

Education Adelaide’s Annual Report 2011-2012 estimated that overseas students injected an estimated $925 million 
into the South Australian economy in 2011-2012, and supported more than 6, 500 local jobs.

“It was South Australia’s biggest service export and the fourth largest export earner, overall.”

Soursed form InDaily - Adelaide Independent news
Kevin Naughton 8/7/2013


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