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Study to help migrant nurses

National research will explore the experience of nurses on 457 visas.

Nurses on 457 visas are being asked to share their experiences of living and working in Australia for a new study analysing the journey and vulnerability of this growing workforce.

Nurses make up about 10 per cent of all the temporary skilled migrants in Australia, most commonly as 457 sub-class visa holders but also on 456 and 442 visas.

The Australian-first study will explore the experience of temporary migration from a social justice perspective and explore important questions about the rights and obligations of these workers.

Associate Professor Joo-Cheong Tham, director of the law school at the University of Melbourne, is leading the multidisciplinary study. He said the research would help inform policy about how to better protect temporary migrant workers and improve the regulatory processes they encounter.

“What we know already is that international nurses face really complex regulatory regimes. They encounter migration laws, national registration standards – there is regulation regarding the structure of bridging courses, and on top of that, is employment and labour regulation,” he said.

“What will be interesting is to explore how what is occurring at the policy and governance level pans out in terms of the lived experiences of migrant nurses.”

Interviews have already been conducted with government departments, trade unions, employers, and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia to begin to explore these issues.

Tham said little is known about the personal experience of nurses on 457 visas. The study aims to understand the intentions of the workers and their migration pathway. Nurses will also be asked to reflect on their experience in the workplace; perceived discrimination and access to social services and entitlements.

Temporary migrant workers currently do not have access to public safety nets such Medicare, social security and publicly funded education.

The pathway of temporary migrant workers in Australia is an ongoing area of debate and data shows that more than 70 per cent of 457 nurses become permanent residents within the first 12 months of their temporary employment.

Temporary skilled migrant nurses are employed across all sectors of health, the largest employer is the NSW public hospital sector followed by residential aged care.
In 2010-2011, some 2227 nurses were granted a 457 visa and this year’s figures are set to overtake that number.

For more details about this project, or if you are a temporary migrant nurse and would like to take part in the research, please email: [email protected] or visit www.socialjustice.unimelb.edu.au/migrantwork.html

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