In March this year the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Mr David Coleman, announced special visa arrangements which will enable aged care facilities to access a personalised visa arrangement to hire employees with the skills necessary to cater for the needs of their elderly residents.

The announcement is in response to recognition of the fact that many aged care providers have a need for bilingual carers. It is a significant initiative, as the occupation is not currently on the list of Eligible Skilled Occupations.

"Elderly people or those with dementia may revert to their native language or lose the ability to speak a second language," the Minister said, explaining part of the rationale underlying the decision.

The labour agreements will make it easier for aged care providers to deliver specialised services that better understand a residents' cultural needs, however it has been emphasised that such arrangements will only be considered where it is demonstrated that Australians cannot fill skill shortages and standard work visa programs cannot be utilised.

Aged care providers wishing to take advantage of this program will need to request a company-specific labour agreement to sponsor skilled overseas workers for a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, or an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa. As part of the process it will be necessary to demonstrate what efforts have been made to fill the position from the local labour market. Hopeful visa applicants will need to demonstrate English language ability equivalent to International English Language Testing System (IELTS) component scores of at least 4.5, and an overall IELTS score of at least 5.0.

Nevett Ford Lawyers has experience in applying for labour agreements, and can assist aged care providers who might be interested in accessing overseas workers in situations where they have been unable to fulfil their labour needs.

Please contact Nevett Ford Lawyers Melbourne for further information and advice.

Telephone: +61 3 9614 7111

Email: melbourne@nevettford.com.au