Australian employers taught how to employ immigrant labour

31 March 2006


Some Australian employers are confused by terms and conditions of visas with which they can hire international students. This is especially true in country areas of Australia, where employers often rely upon international students and immigrants to do work that locals refuse to do.

They are forced to hire unskilled inter-state employees, who are willing to work, leaving skilled migrants struggling to find work.

The Victorian town of Bendigo held a meeting with overseas students, migrants and Bendigo business people involved to explain the range of visas and the processes involved to employ foreign labour

Often employers gave up before giving overseas applicants a chance, said La Trobe University manager of engagement and enterprise Catherina Wallace.

They simply don't understand the process, she said.

The meeting also outlined to overseas students what sort work they can do while studying in Australia.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs skilled migration promotions officer Melissa de Jonk said there are many visa programs students could apply for to study in Australia, with some dishing out tough consequences for breaches of contracts.

Speaking at the meeting, Ms de Jonk outlined temporary and permanent visas students can apply for; the most common being for visas under the general skilled migration program.

Students can be penalised if they breach the point-based visas, which require them to work no more than 20 hours during course hours.

Bendigo Mining human resource co-ordinator Brian Templeton was among the local businesspeople who attended the meeting.

I don't know much about it (visas) which is why I've come to find out more. I wanted to find out how we can hire overseas workers for jobs people in town don't want to do, he said.

From Bendigo's 200 international university students, about 15 to 20 per cent are looking for employment and many are working in fields irrelevant to their studies, said Ms de Jonk