The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association wants working holiday visa rules broadened so overseas teachers and child care specialists working in geographically isolated areas can stay for a second year.
The organisation is lobbying the federal government, including Immigration and Border Protection Minister, Peter Dutton, and Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, to extend second year visa eligibility to include child care roles in remote regions.
ICPA’s federal conference agreed the huge shortage in qualified Australian teachers and carers available in rural areas could be eased considerably given many foreign teachers and child care workers wanted to work in these localities if they were allowed to qualify for a second year “special work” category on the visa.
Queensland’s Tambo ICPA branch also wants the government to re-think restrictions on volunteering work performed in rural and remote locations by backpackers from overseas who can provide valued short term assistance as part of their travel experience.
Their help to parents and home tutors in remote classrooms, or with farm work, has previously been allowed in return for free board, meals and access to travel.
Now, however, for backpackers to gain a second year work visa they must provide proof of payment under relevant employment awards.
Tambo delegates to ICPA federal conference noted this requirement was “fine, in theory”, but rural work environments often offered experience and living on-site packages which did not fit with normal award rate conditions.
“Being able to have a willing station hand who is not putting extra financial pressure on the business really allows the mother/tutor to focus on and complete all class work (rather than be disrupted with outside tasks),” said branch delegate Heather Turnbull.
“These willing workers, under these labour exchange programs, really assist families to keep the school-station work balance in check.
“Having your home tutor available the whole school day is essential, and if willing workers can fill the gap to allow that to occur then this ability to sign second year visa working days for volunteers is essential.”
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