Skilled workforce for aged care will be strengthened with the Morrison Government extending the ability for student visa holders to work longer hours across the sector in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The temporary extension of the removal of working hour restrictions applies to all student visa holders working in the aged care sector, regardless of when they commenced that work.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Government understands the increase in staffing pressures across aged care.
“While the vaccination program means we are seeing fewer hospitalisations and deaths, our workforce continues to be placed under pressure because of COVID-19,” Minister Hunt said.
“Many aged care workers, nurses and other staff have been working at a higher intensity during the pandemic. All Australians are thankful for their efforts, and the Australian Government is working to ease that pressure.
“The Government is ensuring student visa holders working in aged care can take on additional hours, and this provides an important extra workforce.”
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said it was an important mechanism that offered reassurance to providers.
“We understand the uncertainty providers have been facing during this challenging time,” Minister Colbeck said.
“This extension will help reinforce staff rosters, ensuring providers will have continued access to skilled and compassionate workers and ultimately ensure the health and wellbeing of our loved ones in care is a priority.”
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke, said the extension of the temporary relaxation of working hour restrictions will provide certainty for workers.
“This will continue the arrangement where student visa holders have been able to perform more than 40 hours of work a fortnight in aged care without impacting their visa status, which was introduced in response to the pandemic,” Minister Hawke said.
“We want student visa holders to have the flexibility to take on extra work with aged care providers, which will increase the capacity of their employers and colleagues to respond to the pandemic.
“Previously, student visa holders who had started with their employer after 8 September 2020 were excluded from this arrangement, however that condition has now been removed.”
All aged care approved providers or Commonwealth funded aged care service providers that have been issued with a RACS ID or a NAPS ID have been given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders.
Student visa holders already enrolled in nursing can undertake work at the request of health officials to help and support the health effort against COVID-19. No enforcement actions will be taken against student nurses working in these circumstances.