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Regional Australia Benefits from Skilled Migration

Regional Australia Benefits from Skilled Migration

Increasing numbers of skilled migrants continued to head for Australia's regional areas under State/Territory specific and regional migration initiatives, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, announced today.

Mr Ruddock said a record 4,136 skilled migrants headed for regional areas specified by State/Territory Governments in 2001-02, bringing the total to about 17,000 since 1996-97.

"These programs are providing much-needed skills throughout Australia, as well as providing a boost to local economies and regional development," Mr Ruddock said.

"The State specific and regional migration initiatives were developed in close consultation with State/Territory governments and regional authorities to assist them to address skill shortages in regional areas and to influence the distribution of skilled migrants."

Mr Ruddock said the initiatives allowed regional and State/Territory authorities as well as employers to attract skilled and business migrants to specific areas.

Grants for Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania were the highest since the initiatives were introduced.

"Employers have successfully used the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) to continue to attract much-needed skills to regional locations throughout Australia," Mr Ruddock said.

"Grants in 2001-02 of 1,092 were the highest since the introduction of the category in 1995."

The Victorian and South Australian governments are actively sponsoring skilled migrants to meet skill shortages under the State/Territory Nominated Independent Scheme. There were 257 grants in this category in 2001-02.

"2001-02 also saw a very encouraging increase in the number of business migrants and their families who were sponsored by State and Territory Governments to establish new or joint ventures or to continue a business they had established in a regional area," Mr Ruddock said.

"More than 200 visas were granted in these categories for the first time with Tasmania the strongest performing State in these categories."

Family sponsorship also has an important role in attracting skilled migrants with the family sponsored categories comprising 60 percent of the total grants in 2001-02.

These outcomes point to the success the initiatives are having in contributing to the economic development of regional Australia.

The Commonwealth is currently implementing a number of enhancements to the State specific and regional migration initiatives to enable a higher number of skilled and business migrants to settle in regional Australia.

Wide consultation on additional possible enhancements is being undertaken with State and Territory Governments and other interest groups.

"Australia's 2002-03 Migration Program, the largest and most highly skilled in over a decade, provides an increased capacity for regional migration and regional economic development," Mr Ruddock said.

"I intend to discuss with a number of Premiers how we can work to get a more balanced dispersal of Australia's skilled migrant intake."

24 July 2002


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