A visa oversight by the Federal Labor Government is exacerbating the regional healthcare workforce crisis.
Thanks to a Ministerial Direction issued by Immigration Minister Andrew Giles, skilled migrants across the healthcare and education sectors who apply to work in the regions are waiting more than two years for a Skilled – Regional visa (subclass 887) despite being in occupations designated for priority processing by the Federal Government.
Meanwhile migrants in healthcare and education sectors who apply for different types of skilled shortage visas – including those who want to work in the cities, are getting fast tracked with applications in as little as 25 days.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Health and Member for Mallee Anne Webster, who is also the Deputy Chair of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration, said the error on the Government’s part was unforgiveable.
“This is a really disappointing discovery, that the Minister has inadvertently left the regions in the cold.” Dr Webster said.
“Regional areas are crying out for these workers, but the Immigration Minister has carelessly imposed a penalty on the regions.”
Subclass 887 visas are designed for people who want to permanently work in regional areas, but as they do not have an occupation category they are being put at the bottom of the pile.
“Thousands of critical workers are being unfairly denied prioritisation of their visas as a result of this,” Dr Webster said.
“A GP or nurse who wants to work in Mildura, or Swan Hill, or Horsham, is being bumped to the bottom of the pile for a teacher who wants to work in Bondi – all because of a simple classification error by this Labor Government.
“The Albanese Government is failing regional, rural and remote communities because they fail to be over the detail.”
Dr Webster is currently running a Regional Healthcare survey, and 2000 community members have told their personal accounts of how regional healthcare workforce shortage is impacting them.
“Almost 40% of respondents say they have put off seeing a doctor because it is too difficult to get an appointment,” Dr Webster said.
“Nurses in our hospitals are pulling double shifts just to ensure patients in our emergency departments are able to be cared for.
“It’s not good enough, frankly it is utterly absurd that the regions are being put in this situation by incompetent governance from the Labor Government.”