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Monday, 7 May 1984
Page: 1654


Senator MACKLIN(5.08) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

The fifteenth report by the Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications is an interesting document. When one reads the report the ongoing nature of the work, despite the slight wind down in the number of migrants coming to Australia , becomes evident. The problems that the Committee is faced with do not seem to decrease but rather to increase over the years. Of course, the Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications tends to concern itself with the professions: Dentistry, engineering, medicine, pharmacy and the like. However, a very large range of problems is currently emerging in the various trades which tend to come under State regulations and which, I think, are increasingly creating difficulties for many people. I refer to such trades as bricklaying. Bricklayers coming, for example, from South Africa have difficulties with employment in Australia because of the difference between the trade qualifications which are required in Australia and in South Africa.

One case I have in mind has resulted in an extraordinary catch-22 situation. Unless a migrant has worked for 12 months he or she is not allowed to get a ticket which entitles him or her to work. He or she cannot work unless he or she has that ticket, yet he or she is not allowed to get a ticket until he or she has worked for 12 months. Of course, that absurdity within the professions led to the establishment of this Committee, which has worked so well over the 15 or 16 years it has been established.

One item of this report which I think is extremely interesting is the discussion revolving around the multiple choice questions which must be answered by applicants in the various professions in overseas embassies and their applicability to Australia. One of the major difficulties in this area has always been the non-acceptance within the professions of those multiple choice questions and the generation of a sufficient data bank of those questions to enable the examinations that are taken in that area to be sufficiently varied so as not to allow cribbing or even not to allow, as is currently the case in some of those professional areas, the students who are going to take them the chance to look at previous questions in the area so that they may prepare themselves for the examination, as is only fair. It is of interest, however, that despite that, the professions of physiotherapy, pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy and veterinary science have now been able to generate sufficient of those to enable this to take place. That has been of extreme benefit to many of the migrants coming to Australia in easing the way for the acceptance of their professional qualifications and hence in easing the way for them to again work in the Australian community, work which is often of the sort that Australia needs and requires from its migrants.

Obviously the Committee will continue in its work. I hope that it will provide, not only in the area of professional qualifications but also in other areas, the guidelines which it so obviously is now capable of generating, so that the rather haphazard operation in areas outside the professions might be dealt with in the extremely competent way that the professions are being dealt with.

Question resolved in the affirmative.