Migration – benefiting regional Australia

Australia’s 2002-03 Migration Program recently announced by the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, will be the largest and most highly skilled in over a decade, providing an increased capacity for regional migration and regional economic development. With a planning level of between 100,000 to 110,000 places, the 2002-03 Migration Program will be 12,000 places higher than the 2001-02 Program, which has a projected outcome of 93,000, and will continue to be a central contributor to economic and social development in all regions of Australia.

Regional migration initiatives provide direct economic benefits to regional Australia by addressing skill shortages and through business development and expansion. Regional migration mechanisms can be a powerful tool when seen as part of a broader strategic focus on the role of regions building the nation.

Regional migration is a priority for the Government and is part of its broader agenda for regional Australia. This is underpinned by partnership arrangements, which foster the development of self reliant regions.

The Commonwealth has worked closely with State and Territory Governments and regional authorities over the last five years to develop a broad range of State Specific Migration Mechanisms (SSMMs). These mechanisms effect a more balanced regional dispersal of migrants within Australia and provide governments and authorities with greater opportunities to influence the volume and profile of skilled and business migrants settling in their jurisdictions.

They provide employers and businesses in regional Australia with a means of business expansion and attracting skilled workers and also enable employers, State/Territory Governments or relatives to sponsor prospective skilled migrants. The design of the mechanisms is based on research that shows factors critical in determining the settlement patterns of migrants include: the location of family members; the availability of employment; and business opportunities.

The mechanisms include the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), the State/Territory Nominated Independent visa category (STNI), the Skilled Designated Area Sponsored Visa Category, the Skill Matching Database (SMD), Regional Established Business in Australia (REBA) and State/Territory Sponsored Business Owner and Senior Executive. All applications for these categories receive priority processing The number of visas granted under the various SSMMs has increased from 1,126 in 1996-97 to 3,846 in 2000-01, the highest level since the initiatives were introduced. A total of over 15,000 visas have been issued under these mechanisms since 1996-97, with most grants made to applicants going to Victoria (40 percent), followed by South Australia (25 percent).


1997-98 TO 28 FEBRUARY 2002

VIC - 40%
SA - 25%
WA - 9%
QLD - 9%
NSW - 6%
ACT - 5%
TAS - 4%
NT - 2%

New enhancements to SSMMs

The Commonwealth is currently considering a package of enhancements to State Specific Migration Mechanisms (SSMMs) to enable a higher number of skilled and business migrants to settle in regional Australia. Consultation is being undertaken with State and Territory Governments and other interested groups, including an external reference group of regional representatives and another external reference group on business migration. The package of enhancements being considered includes the following.

  • A two stage process, that is, a provisional visa followed by permanent residence once a business is fully established for the Business Skills categories with greater emphasis on State and Territory Government and/or regional authority sponsorship and support at both stages (with immediate permanent residence only available for high calibre business migrants who have State/Territory Government support).
  • Measures to increase the number of potential skilled migrants on the skill matching database that is currently used by employers and State and Territory Governments.
  • Improving the effectiveness of the State/Territory Nominated Independent scheme by introducing a two stage process to these visas.
  • Changes to the general skilled migration category including:
    • providing an additional five bonus points for overseas students who have recently completed their qualifications by studying and living at the campus of an education institution in regional Australia for a period of at least two years; and
    • increasing the period of time students are required to attend a tertiary institution in Australia to be exempt from the work experience requirement from 12 months to two years.
  • Changes to temporary residence to allow regional certifying bodies a greater role to support sponsorships in regional Australia.
  • Special sponsorship and nomination arrangements for regional health authorities to bring in doctors and nurses where there is no direct employer, but there is a need for self employed people with these skills.
  • Extending the potential length of temporary residence visas for doctors in ‘areas of need’ to up to four years.
  • Labour agreements to fill regional shortages.
  • Increased awareness raising and assistance in using regional migration categories.

For more information about these schemes and what they can do for you and your region contact the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs’ Regional Hotline in your State, or visit www.immi.gov.au.

Anita Lee - RSMS New South Wales

Anita Lee has worked all over the world as a radiographer but in Australia she has found her niche - and a lifestyle many people would envy.Anita came to Australia from Ohio, USA in 1998 after she heard about the shortage of skilled radiographers in Australia.

“I was working in Saudi Arabia in the biggest hospital in the Middle East as a single female for the previous seven years and was looking for a job that was less stressful,” Anita pointed out.“A friend of mine I worked with in Riyadh was writing to me about her new life in Australia, the great climate, the way of life. It sounded so wonderful.”

Anita followed her instinct that Australia would give her the change she needed and was eventually sponsored by Breastscreen NSW North Coast to migrate through the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS). “They took care of everything and it went so smoothly. The only thing that held me up was getting my professional certificates accepted.”

RSMS is one of several programs run by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs to help employers find the right people for jobs. The scheme helps employers in regional Australia who are unable to fill a skilled position in their business from the local labour market. Anita found her new job with Breastscreen was the best way for her to see Australia while on the job.

“I work 38 hours in four days on mobile breastscreening units, travelling from Coffs Harbour to Port Macquarie. I have worked all over the North Coast area, including places like Dorrigo, Bellingen, Benalbo, Grafton, Nambucca Heads and Kempsey to name just a few. It is a great way of life. This is a fantastic country. The people here have more time for family, friends and spending time outdoors.”

Anita is amazed by Australia’s national breast screening and assessment services.

“In the field of breast screening, Australia is fantastic. In many countries I have worked women’s health is not foremost and in the US women don’t have a mammogram unless they are insured or can afford to pay for it themselves.”

According to Anita there is a critical shortage of radiographers and mammographers in Australia and most services are short-staffed.

“Any trained radiographers the Department of Immigration can employ through the RSMS is wonderful. They are filling a need that exists in Australia.”

Anita said the advantage is that she could probably find work anywhere in Australia and she hopes to see more of the country.

“This is a diverse wonderful country and I plan to see more of it. I have been a permanent resident since January this year and hope to become an Australian citizen.”

Anita also plans to continue her volunteer work overseas with Radiology/Mammography International. Last year she worked in Vietnam and next year plans to go to Pakistan for a month to work in her field.

“I love to travel and feel I make a contribution. We make good changes wherever we go. I am also fascinated to see how other medical systems work. But Australia is now my home and I am happy as a clam.”


Australian Capital Territory
(02) 6274 4553
[email protected]

New South Wales
(02) 9893 4221
[email protected]

Northern Territory
(08) 8946 3131
[email protected]

(07) 3360 5025
[email protected]

South Australia
(08) 8237 6683
[email protected]

(03) 6220 4227
[email protected]

(03) 9235 3613
[email protected]

Western Australia
(08) 9415 9221
[email protected]

For further information visit click here.