Australian Academy of Science - Government changes to temporary visa arrangements

Below is email sent to the Australian Academy of Science from Anna-Maria Arabia  Chief Executive.

On Tuesday 18 April the Prime Minister announced changes to Australia’s temporary visa rules and more specifically to the 457 visa subclasses. If implemented, these changes are likely to have unintended consequences for the STEM sector and I am aware that this is a cause for concern for many Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science.

The STEM sector’s ability to play a significant role in supporting Australia’s knowledge generation and competitiveness relies on Australian researchers being able to collaborate with international scientists, and on the mobility of students, postdoctoral employees and innovators between Australia and other countries. The 457 visa program is an important mechanism to attract much sought after international postdocs and other highly qualified researchers. In particular, we know Australia benefits enormously from ARC DECRA, Future and Laureate Fellowships and other funding schemes that utilise the 457 vis subclass. The proposed visa changes may also adversely impact the ability of the National Innovation and Science Agenda to fulfil its potential.

In response, the Academy of Science has written to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton raising its concerns about the unintended consequences of the proposed changes to the visa system. We have sought clarification on a number of issues including:

· whether the scientific professions identified as no longer being eligible for 457 visas will be included in the two newly created visa subclasses.
· The proposed 2 year work experience threshold and how it would apply to the scientific workforce.
· the Government’s intended timeframe for implementation of the new visa scheme
· the Government’s plans for consultation with the sector on this policy framework.

The Academy of Science will continue to work with the Government to minimise or remove any negative impact on the STEM sector.

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