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Migration Program Highly Skilled

Migration Program Highly Skilled and Largest in a Decade

Australia's 2001-02 migration program has been delivered on target and was the largest and most highly skilled in a decade, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, announced today.

"Over the past year the program not only met the target of 85,000 places but was able to make full use of the 8000 place skill stream contingency reserve," Mr Ruddock said.

The program outcome was a total of 93,080 and contained the largest skill stream on record at 53,520 or about 58 per cent of the program.

This is two and a half times larger than the skill stream of 10 years ago.

"In other words, 53,520 highly skilled and educated young people and their families chose to make Australia their home in 2001-02, bringing with them their energy, their knowledge, their experience and their children," Mr Ruddock said.

"We are going to be a better and stronger country for their decision to come and join us."

Mr Ruddock said immigration was playing a critical role in ensuring Australia had a sustainable population in the future and a viable and highly skilled workforce.

"On current projections our population would start to fall in around 30 years time, if not for immigration," Mr Ruddock said.

"This underscores the importance of a well managed, well targeted program now and for the future.

"Commonwealth and State budgets and Australian living standards are benefiting substantially from the influx of these young skilled migrants who are hitting the labour market running.

"It is also encouraging that migration is making a contribution to regional Australia with a record 4,136 visas granted under regional and State-specific initiatives."

The family stream had also grown in 2001-02 and at 38,090 was the largest in five years, demonstrating Australia's continuing commitment to close family reunion.

"It is worth remembering that 85 per cent of the family stream is composed of the young and often skilled spouses and fiances of Australians," Mr Ruddock said.

Mr Ruddock also announced that a total of 12,349 visas were granted under the 2001-02 Humanitarian Program.

Of these, 4,160 were offshore refugee places, 4,258 special humanitarian program places (offshore), 3,885 onshore places (for 748 permanent protection visas and 3,137 temporary protection visas), 40 special assistance category places and six temporary humanitarian concern visas.

With unauthorised boat arrivals creating uncertainty on total program numbers in recent years, some humanitarian places have again been carried over. Together with TPV departures restored to the program and the carry-over, it is expected there will be a total of 13,223 places in the 2002-03 program year.

During the past decade the focus of the offshore component of the humanitarian program has shifted from South-East Asia, Central America and Europe (predominantly the former Yugoslavia) to Africa, the Middle East and South-West Asia, reflecting changing humanitarian need around the world.

Mr Ruddock also launched the proceedings of the Migration: Benefiting Australia Conference and his updated website.

24 July 2002


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