Australia attracts migrants, but loses Australians

23 January 2006

As has been reported on numerous times, Australia is currently scouring the world for skilled immigrants. The trend is likely to continue, as an increasing number of skilled workers is leaving Australia, continuing the country's brain drain.

More than 62,000 Australians left the country's shores last financial year, with 28,956 of those being skilled workers, a Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs report shows. This was an increase on the previous financial year when 24,079 skilled Australians left to live overseas.

But the report on Immigration Aspects of Population Flows 2004/2005 also showed more than 47,000 skilled workers arrived in Australia to fill the gap.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said she believed many of those who left Australia to live overseas would return with better skills.

"Research shows that many of these same Australians will return home, often with enhanced skills," Senator Vanstone said. "In the meantime, 47,171 overseas-born people with skills arrived to assist employers fill the vacant positions for skilled workers."

Senator Vanstone also said 39,600 permanent residency visas were issued in 2004/2005.

"This is almost double the number eight years ago and represents a profound shift in the way people migrate to Australia," Senator Vanstone said.

"Almost a third of places in the 2004-05 migration program went to people already in the country."

Senator Vanstone attributed the increase to changes in 2001 that made it easier for overseas students to apply for permanent residency at the completion of their studies in Australia.

More than 16,400 skilled permanent migration visas were granted in 2004/2005, an increase of 25 per cent on the previous year, the report said.