New visas to fill labour shortages

By James Bennett

A Federal Government rollout of new regional visas could bring more skilled migrants to the Goulburn Valley — but the region will have to compete with Adelaide and Perth.

The new Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa allows a skilled migrant to work in Australia by government agency nomination or family member sponsorship.

Migrants can also obtain work through the Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa. This allows employers to sponsor a skilled migrant to work if the job cannot be filled by an Australian.

The combined total of positions allocated is 25 000 a year across regional Australia.

However, despite the new visas and their potential to boost the region's population, the Goulburn Valley might struggle to attract new arrivals because of a new definition of regional Australia.

A press release from Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie said: "All of Australia, except Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, are now classified as regional for migration purposes.”

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said although the definition was not ideal it was necessary.

“These classifications do fulfill other government protocol,” he said.

“Sometimes the Nationals have a more defined definition of regional Australia.

“But it has been deemed that places like Hobart, Adelaide and Darwin do need this type of assistance.”

Mr Drum, who has been vocal about these type of visas in parliament, said it was fantastic news for the Goulburn Valley.

“So many businesses can now fill their labour shortages,” he said.

“And there's a slightly wider list of eligible trades and the occupation list is also a bit bigger. This offers them (workers) a stronger path to permanent residency.”

Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive Sam Birrell welcomed the new scheme.

“It's important we have migrants come here and participate in the economy in a positive way to enhance the region,” he said.

“To people who are against this I would say look at what people can contribute to the economy and community rather then ethnic backgrounds.”

Mr Birrell said the new visas aligned closely with Prime Minister Scott Morrison's push for Shepparton to highlight the region as a viable place to live.

He said it was important to keep migrants in the Shepparton region once the visa expired.

“We need to improve Shepparton's amenities and that can keep them here,” he said.

“So that comes down to ensuring we have good connectivity, a good rail system to Melbourne and, more importantly, by improving the amenities it allows people to adapt.

“We want people to live here and not move to the cities."

To find out more about the visas, visit the Home Affairs website.

Read more on opportunities for visa holders in the Goulburn Valley

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