Aged care providers are urging the federal government to delay the reduction of work rights for international students, warning that it will exacerbate critical workforce shortages in the aged care sector.
International students on student visas are heavily relied upon to fill low-paid care roles in the staff-strapped sector. However, the unlimited hours they have been able to work under pandemic-era visa arrangements will be reduced to 24 hours a week under new measures designed to curb the exploitation of temporary workers.
As the sector is grappling with severe workforce shortages while trying to increase staffing to meet upcoming requirements for minutes of care per patient, the Aged and Community Care Providers Association is calling for a six-month extension to existing conditions for student visa holders to assess whether worker availability is improving.
According to Catholic Health Australia, at least 10% of its workforce are student visa holders, 40% of whom work more than 48 hours a fortnight.
Catholic Health Australia Aged Care Director Jason Kara said the organisation had raised the issue of student visa work limits with the government and was working through the problem collaboratively.
The government is reviewing its intake of international students to ensure they are coming to Australia to study useful skills and mitigate the use of student visas as a backdoor method to filling low-paid jobs
Home Affairs Minister, Clare O’Neil, said a proportion of those on student visas were in Australia to work rather than study. O’Neil acknowledged that the workforce crisis couldn’t be fixed without migration, but didn’t specify a timeline for a new plan to bring in low-paid workers in collaboration with businesses and unions.
Source: The Age.