27th April 2018
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Nurses needed in Australia

Nurses on 457 visa


There are growing work opportunities for nurses in Australia. The 457 visa program is an avenue for well-qualified, experienced overseas nurses to benefit from this, as temporary skilled migrants.

Australian hospitals are recruiting nurses from overseas to fill certain shorter-term vacancies. The need for more nurses in Australia is expected to grow as the nation’s population ages. 

The Australian Private Hospitals Association says that its members’ greatest need when recruiting internationally is for nurses with advanced skills, particularly in specialist areas such as intensive care, coronary care and operating theatres. 

Too many nurses, or not enough?

Some 8,000 Australian students graduate with nursing qualifications each year, but around 3,000 cannot find work. This is slightly less than the number of international nurses recruited between 2011 and 2012. There is concern from the nursing unions that local nursing graduates are missing out on jobs to foreign recruits.

There are also claims from some quarters that universities are training too many nurses.

But any apparent lack of opportunities for local nursing graduates may be a short-term problem. Not only is Australia’s total population ageing, leading to a greater need for nursing services, but the nursing profession itself is also ageing. Many of the 300,000 nurses currently working in Australian hospitals are in their fifties, and moving towards retirement over the next decade. Without major changes to policy settings to boost retention and productivity, by 2025 the shortage of nurses across the nation will total 109,000, according to Health Workforce Australia. 

This suggests that, in the medium to longer term, there will be opportunities here for both locally and internationally trained nurses. The 457 scheme is designed to address only short-to medium-term skill shortages. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection reports that 10.9 per cent of the 457 visas granted in 2012–13 were in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector.

Advertise locally first

Under the Temporary Work Skilled (subclass 457) visa, overseas workers can be recruited for periods of up to four years. Many categories of nurses are included on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL), meaning that they are eligible for inclusion in the 457 scheme.

However, potential Australian employers (‘sponsors’) must carry out labour market testing when seeking to bring in overseas nurses. This means advertising domestically before trying to source candidates internationally.

Health service providers wishing to find suitable overseas candidates to fill employment shortfalls through the 457 visa scheme can benefit from the advice of Haag Walker Lawyers, to ensure they are meeting their sponsorship obligations.



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