Australia sees low nurse demand

By Malou M. Mozo
Filipino nurses eyeing job opportunities in Australia will have to wait for at least two years as the Australian government announced it will hold off applications for foreign nurses beginning this year until 2013.

Austrialian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith explained that this was due to a consolidation movement of Australia’s public healthcare sector.

“From now until 2013 there will be no significant demand for nurses outside of Australia,” he made this announcement during his recent visit to Cebu.

At present, Smith estimated some 250,000 Filipinos working and residing in Australia, majority of them working as nurses or other medical professions.

He failed to clarify, though, whether the employment status of Filipino nurses in Australia will be affected by the ongoing consolidation in their public health sector.

However, Smith said that employment demand for accountants, engineers, IT (Information Technology) experts in Australia will continue to grow over the next few years.

Earlier, Leah Samaco-Paquiz, Philippine Nursing Association president noted a plateau in the demand for Filipino nurses abroad including the United States (US) and Australia citing weakening demand from US employers and the issue on visa retrogression.

She said many nurses are now underemployed or unemployed as a result of changes of policy in destination countries, the current situation of oversupply and quality problems, among others.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) likewise admitted that the US has indeed placed a cap on the entry of Filipino nurses but encouraged Filipinos to venture into new markets.

DoLE said that Saudi Arabia alone is in need of 10,000 nurses for their public hospitals and are specifically eyeing Filipino nurses to fill the vacancies.

Likewise, under the new ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) which was signed in January last year, New Zealand will allow up to 100 Philippine nurses to work there as registered nurses at any one time for a period of three years.

Nurses will be given working visas even while they are undergoing the required bridging courses and examinations.

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