Temporary visa-holders’ vital in healthcare and the economy

Nurses and orderlies key for health workforce.
Nurses and orderlies make up a key part of the health workforce. (Photo: Johnny Greig/iStockphoto)

Of visas and viruses

21 March 2020

Henry Sherrell and Peter Mares – Inside Story

Temporary visa holders 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.

The rules faced by temporary migrants might seem a secondary concern in the current crisis, However, 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.

The most recent Home Affairs data shows there are around a million temporary visa holders (not including tourists). There were 65,000 temporary skilled workers, plus their partners and children. Then there were an estimated 200,000 New Zealanders who are settled, long-term residents of Australia but don’t qualify for most government payments and services apart from Medicare.

Many of these people may to leave Australia if they lose their jobs. To help reduce international travel during the crisis, we should encourage them to stay — and if they do, holding to the view that non-Australians shouldn’t be eligible for taxpayer assistance would be inhumane and short-sighted.

[Read the Inside Story article].

About the authors

Henry Sherrell is an independent migration researcher.

Peter Mares, Inside Story’s Contributing Editor, is lead moderator with the Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership and the author of Not Quite Australian: How Temporary Migration is Changing the Nation.

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