Access to potential employment for migrant workers in WA’s regions is set to become easier when reforms to the skilled migration program come into effect on July 1.
The changes include a new online service connecting employers with potential skilled migrants and streamlining the pathway to permanent residence for people already working in Australia on temporary 457 visas.
Skilled migration seminars were held in Albany and Katanning last week to discuss the reforms, which include broadening the scope of occupations open to migrants and increases the eligible age to 50 to respond better to market labour demands.
The proposed reforms come after the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced national unemployment had fallen to 4.9 per cent in April.
Unemployment has also fallen in lower-western WA from 7 per cent in March 2011 to 5.1 per cent in the same month this year.
Great Southern Development Commission chief executive Bruce Manning said skilled migrant workers were an essential part of regional economies and suspected the reforms would continue the steady flow of job-seeking migrants into the region.
One success story is that of Department of Environment and Conservation regional leader for parks and visitors service, Adnaan Abrahams, who shifted from South Africa to Australia with his wife and children in early 2010.
Mr Abrahams, 50, who replied to a DEC job advert he found in a Cape Town newspaper, said the family move was a big decision, but one that had paid off.
“DEC was great as a sponsor and in South Africa there is quite a high crime rate and a lot of social problems,” he said.
“I got a two-year 457 visa which was the quickest and easiest way to get in, but once I was in I applied for the permanent residency skilled migration visa because I showed I had the skills and knowledge base.”
Initially Mr Abrahams and his family moved to Albany without their oldest son, but he later joined them and now lives in Sydney as a university student and junior Waratahs rugby player.
“My other son plays cricket for Royals and is a prefect at ASHS where he is in Year 12 and my daughter is in Perth studying at Curtin University.”