Occupational hazards and benefits for Filipinos in Australia

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CRISPIN R. ARANDA

FILIPINO-Australians remain the fifth-largest migrant community in Australia. According to the 2014 census, 225,110 Filipinos have made Australia their home, constituting 3.4 percent of Australia’s overseas-born residents and one percent of Australian’s total population.

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More Filipinos were able to migrate Down Under based on their skills and profession than family ties. The median age of Filipino migrants was 39.5, which was 2.1 years above the general population with Filipino women outnumbering their male counterparts – 61 percent to 39 percent.

Sydney and Blacktown remain the favorite initial landing cities for Filipinos since the jobs and educational institutions in New South Wales rank among the top choices for Filipinos.

The states that recorded the largest decreases in the state of intended residence as a proportion of the total migration program over the last decade (according to the Australian Government’s 2015–16 Migration Program Report) were:

• South Australia fell from 8.5 percent in 2006–07 to 6.6 percent in 2015–2016;

• Queensland fell from 12.6 percent in 2006–2007 to 11.5 percent in 2015–2016;

• Victoria fell from 26.1 percent in 2006–2007 to 25 percent in 2015–2016;

• Western Australia fell from 12.5 percent in 2006–2007 to 11.9 percent in 2015–2016;

• The Australian Capital Territory fell from 2.3 percent in 2006–2007 to 1.7 percent in 2015–16; and

• Tasmania fell from 0.8 percent to 0.6 percent.

On the other hand, New South Wales and the Northern Territory exhibited the largest increases in the states of intended residence for the same period.

The make-up of Filipinos in Australia reflects the policy direction of the government putting emphasis on skills rather than family ties: 68 percent are skilled migrants while only 32 percent are from family visa streams. For the fiscal year 2012-2013, Australia pegged the migration cap at 190,000 with approximately 67 percent for skilled migrants and the remainder for family-sponsorship and other eligibility.

Until 2015, registered nurses constituted the highest number of temporary and permanent migrants among the top 10 occupations for three successive years 2012 to 2015.

Top 10 occupations, temporary and permanent migrants
While other occupations changed in the selected years, the occupations that remained steady and among the top 10 temporary migrants are registered nurses, IT workers (software applications programmers, ICT business and systems analysts, computer network professionals) those in finance (accountants, auditors) and the hospitality sector (chefs, cooks).

RNs admitted on temporary basis have continued to decline in numbers both because of stringent and costly state or territory registration and licensure procedures and the increased numbers of local RN graduates and licensees.

On the other hand, the number of registered nurses who obtained permanent residency after temporary admission increased on a yearly basis.

The new and revised single list of occupations issued by the DIBP—which replaced the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) and the Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL)—would further reduce the number of entry-level staff nurses from the Philippines. On the other hand, the number of Filipino licensed RNs pursuing further studies would increase as the study work and pursue licensure route would be the most viable alternative.

The six- to 10-week bridging course for International-Education Nurses (IENs) cost anywhere from A$10,000 to A$14,000.

Factor in the cost of airfare and accommodation, food and lodging etc., and the expenses that come with directly applying for permanent residency as an RN (eligible to practice nursing) in Australia makes the temporary (study or work visas) more viable and reasonable options.

So, if Australia is your intended country of migration, be ready to dig down into deep pockets of resourcefulness for Down Under.

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