COVID-19 has left governments scrambling for balanced economic, social and ethical policy responses.The Australian government’s A$130 billion JobKeeper payment – a wage subsidy to keep Australians in work – is vital for our response to the pandemic and future economic recovery.
But temporary visa holders, including international temporary graduates, have fallen through the cracks. The temporary graduate visa (subclass 485) is for international graduates of a qualification from an Australian institution. It allows them to stay in Australia for two to four years to gain work experience.
There are nearly 90,000 temporary graduate visa holders in Australia.
International graduates on temporary visas rely solely on wage income to cover their living expenses. These visa holders mainly work in industries that have suffered majored losses, such as hospitality, and they are not entitled to the JobKeeker payment.
The Tasmanian government has just announced a $3 million support package for temporary visa holders which would include 485 visa holders.
This is a first from any state or territory government and will hopefully spur similar support from universities and other jurisdictions – including from the federal government.
It’s time for Australia to be reciprocal and take care of international graduates, who are major contributors to our economy and society, in their time of need. It’s both a humanitarian issue and a sensible economic strategy.