Is Australia limiting visas for overseas Doctors? Al Spinner investigates...

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There has been recent press speculation in The Australian newspaper about Australian government plans to limit the provision of visas to overseas trained GPs and Consultants. This has caused concern to Doctors we are currently assisting or who are considering moving to Australia over the next few years.

It is worth bearing in mind a number of factors when thinking about this issue. Firstly, there are not enough Australian trained doctors willing to move to substantive posts in regional or remote areas, meaning international medical graduates (IMGs) are still in high demand.

The second factor to consider is that there has recently been a general election. The right wing coalition government was re-elected with a majority of 1 in the House of Representatives. The second house, where Senators sit and review legislation, is populated with dissident and independent Senators often representing regional and remote interests.

In the unlikely event that legislation is moved to limit visas for IMGs, the government would not have the numbers to get past a) the House of Representatives and b) a spicy Senate. The issue of health services being negatively affected in regional and remote areas would be too much of a political hot potato for the government. They’d get smashed by the opposition and regional representatives.

We consulted migration contacts in Australia. The consensus is that the government did review the Skilled Occupation List and Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List, and no plans were made to remove GPs and Consultants from the list. GPs are still one of the most in demand skillsets because of the issues in attracting Australians to regional areas. The Health Department even released a statement to the effect that no changes were going to be made.

So why the article in The Australian?

In my opinion - as an Australian and avid follower of politics - it is a classic “media beat up”. Like here in the UK, immigration is a sensitive topic. The Australian, a conservative newspaper, is effectively the current government’s mouthpiece. I believe this article is a gentle way to keep immigration on the front page. By linking a government review to IMG visas it can be seen to be tough on immigration without actually doing anything to harm the status quo. I may be wrong but given the feedback we've received from migration experts in Australia, it seems to be a lot of fuss about nothing at this stage.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on it and if we hear anything else, we’ll let you know immediately.

If you're interested in job opportunities for Doctors in Australia, or wish to find out more about visas and medical registration issues, contact Al Spinner on +44 (0)131 240 5276 or via al@headmedical.com

To find out more about living and working as a Doctor in Australia, check out our informative guides for more information.

Read all about Al's latest trip down under in his blog.