Australian government is working on a plan that includes a form of support payment for temporary visa holders who could lose their jobs in industries such as tourism and hospitality.
While Australian workers will come first, the government will seek to place highly skilled temporary migrants — without a method to return to their country of citizenship — into high-demand areas, including regions.
Welfare assistance may be available to temporary visa holders if they face significant financial hardship under the Special Benefit payment and the coronavirus supplement of $550.
Holders of temporary visas, including partner visas and temporary humanitarian visas, may also be eligible for the Special Benefit.
While there are an estimated 1.5 million people on temporary visas without access to government services, only some visa holders who experience hardship would be eligible.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said while the government would give Australians priority, it was also working to help temporary residents who would suffer hardship while stranded in Australia. “This is an unprecedented crisis, and we know that thousands of Australians will find themselves without work due to industries shutting down,” he said. “Obviously they should be given priority by businesses that are able to continue to hire people. Our focus is on keeping Australians in jobs as we battle the impacts of the coronavirus.
“We also know there is a number of temporary visa holders in Australia who are unable to return home or who have skills that will be in high demand during this crisis, including in health, aged care, agriculture and other essential services. We are focused on this and have been working with industry to provide more flexibility in relation to visas and conditions. The aim is to ensure businesses can continue to operate and temporary migrants can continue to support themselves, and help Australia, during this crisis.”
Farmers have already experienced significant hardship in the face of a long-running drought and summer bushfires. A prolonged labour shortage would be a further, potentially ruinous, setback, Tyson Cattle, from industry group AusVeg, said.
“Australians need fresh produce and growers need workers to supply this produce to consumers. “The extension of Seasonal Worker Program and Working Holiday Maker visas is a much-needed short-term solution to what will become a larger problem as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to limit the number of foreign workers who can come to Australia.”
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries employees make up 2.5% of Australia’s workforce.
But seasonal workers from Pacific nations are also needed for fruit and vegetable picking.
Their home countries had previously prohibited their citizens from leaving amid the coronavirus pandemic, fearing the virus might be brought back to small islands, even before Australia said it would be closing its borders to foreigners.
The labour gap could also be an opportunity for Australian workers laid off or temporarily stood down from their jobs due to Covid-19 crisis.
Contact us at StudyIn if you need consultation as you are affected by travel ban or job loss.