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Budget 2006: Working holiday visa enhancements a boost for backpackers and regional employers.

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Working Holiday Visa Enhancements a Boost for Backpackers and Regional Employers

09 May 2006

The working holiday maker programme will be expanded to allow young people to stay longer with one employer and study an extra month while they are in Australia, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Amanda Vanstone announced today.

All working holiday makers (WHM) will be allowed to work for the same employer for an extra three months. It will also mean WHM holders can study in Australia for four months instead of the current three months.

From July, working holiday makers who spend three months employed in an expanded range of primary industries - such as fishing, pearling, shearing, butchery and forestry work - can apply for another WHM visa.

“These changes will be a win-win situation for employers and working holiday makers and will help boost the Australian economy - particularly in the tourism industry, which is a big employer of working holiday makers,” the Minister said.

“Working holiday makers are often highly skilled and can make a positive long-term contribution to the economy.

“The expansion of the scheme follows successful changes to the working holiday maker visa in November 2005, which enabled people who spent three months doing seasonal harvest work in regional Australia to become eligible for a second visa.

“More than 1500 working holiday makers applied between November 2005 and December 2006 to stay an extra year in Australia.

“Growers tell me that working holiday makers are among their most valuable workers because of their enthusiasm and mobility.”

Senator Vanstone said employers and working holiday makers would benefit from the rule change allowing working holiday makers to spend longer in the one job.

“It will enable them to retain trained staff for longer and allow working holiday makers to apply for jobs that require a stay of longer than three months.”

Senator Vanstone said changes to the study time allowed under the scheme will have many


benefits, particularly for working holiday makers who are considering full-time work or study in Australia, such as nurses wanting to upgrade their skills to Australian standards.

The working holiday maker scheme has grown from fewer than 50 000 people a year in the mid-1990s to more than 104 000 in 2004-05.

There are two further initiatives aimed at young people, in this case, students. First, overseas students who graduate in Australia with a tertiary degree will be able to apply for an 18-month work visa in Australia.

“Many will use this to obtain skilled work experience in Australia and subsequently qualify for skilled migration visas,” the Minister said.

“Second, I am also introducing a new initiative aimed at attracting graduates from high-calibre universities overseas who have studied in disciplines where we have skill shortages in Australia.

“This initiative will allow a relatively small number of these high-achieving students to obtain work experience in Australia on a temporary visa. Some of them will be motivated to stay on in Australia and will be well placed to contribute strongly to our skilled labour force.

“These initiatives were raised in my annual consultation process with employers and other stakeholders,” Senator Vanstone added.

Minister's media contact: 0417 445 886