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Unions to probe global migration

Mapping research launched to monitor the impact of moving health workforce.

The NSW Nurses' Association in collaboration with Public Sector International (PSI) will undertake a joint research project to map the migration of health and social care workers into Australia.

The national report to be tabled at next year's PSI World Congress will aim to identify the causes and impact of migration in the health sectors.

Australia was chosen as an important destination country for many nurses and health workers. Thirty per cent of nurses working in Australia were born overseas and the number of migrant nurses coming into Australia has increased more than fivefold in the last 15 years.

15 per cent of RNs in Australia were first qualified outside of Australia and more nurses are being recruited from developing countries.

National reports analysing trends in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa have already been launched this year.

Genevieve Gencianos, PSI program coordinator said while the global federation supports opening the legal channels for migration, strategies for migration should not replace the promotion of decent working conditions in home countries.

"These days, sadly, migration is seen as a way out for many governments particularly the countries of origin for migrant workers," she told the symposium.

The participatory research project will provide the evidence-base to develop tools and strategies to address the underlying causes of international migration of health workers. It is believed high labour mobility is largely driven by economic reasons as workers go in search of higher wages and improved working conditions.

Significant countries of origin and destination for migrant workers will be studied. A national working group in Australia will be established to conduct focus groups and interviews with migrant workers.

The results from the national reports will be collated into a global report on international migration in health and social care sectors to be presented to the PSI World Congress in November 2012 in South Africa.

PSI is a global federation of the public sector unions representing more than 20 million workers worldwide. The health and social care sectors make up one third of all members.

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