Melbourne, September 23: The Turnbull Coalition Government today confirmed it will implement its election commitment to introduce a new temporary sponsored parent visa.
The temporary sponsored parent visa will allow Australians to sponsor their parents to stay in Australia for up to five years.
Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke announced a series of community consultations and called for public submissions to assist the Government with the final design of the new temporary visa and the legislative changes required to implement it.
“The Turnbull Government recognises that many Australian migrant communities face particular pressures through the separation of children from parents and grandchildren from grandparents,” Mr Hawke said.
“We want to help families reunite and spend time together, while ensuring that we do so in a way that does not burden Australia’s health care system.” Mr Hawke said.
The introduction of such a visa is a significant shift from current visa options for parents. The current Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) advice is that there is approximate 30 year wait before visa grant consideration for parent (non-contributory) visa applications.
The demand for places in the permanent parent stream, far exceed the number of places available.
The associated costs for contributory parent visas are also significantly higher in addition to a queue of 2 years.
Improving arrangements for parents of Australians to spend time with their family in Australia, whilst mitigating costs to the Australian taxpayer, was a key objective of both major parties at the recent election.
“It is now important we get this balance right in the design of the temporary sponsored parent visa”, Mr Hawke said.
“I encourage migrant communities to get involved in the consultation process and provide feedback to assist in the design of this visa“ Assistant Minister Hawke said.
The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) welcomed the announcement but held concerns about certain aspects of the proposal.
FECCA Deputy Chair Peter Doukas said, “We are pleased that the Government recognises the importance of families as ‘fundamental building blocks’ of society, and has considered how important family reunion is for migrant communities.
“While we welcome today’s announcement, we believe that families must still have a more permanent pathway to reunite with their family members from overseas.
“Flexible temporary parent visas must not replace the existing options for people to migrate to Australia, and join their families on non-contributory and contributory parent visas.”
FECCA is concerned that a shift away from permanent parent visas to flexible temporary parent visas will leave many individuals without a social safety net and no access to crucial services.
The general belief is that this would tantamount to putting pressure on Australian families and individuals who hold temporary parent visas, and according to FECCA, creating a class of migrants who are not supported to settle in Australia, affecting social cohesion.
Earlier FECCA had opposed the Productivity Commission’s report on Australia’s Migrant Intake with respect to its recommendation on parent visas, which appeared skewed toward fiscal impacts.
“The social and cultural contribution of family stream migration should not be under-estimated,” read a FECCA statement.
Terming family migration vital for successful settlement, FECCA had called for amendments to permanent parent visa applications. It urged the government to introduce a more flexible temporary parent visa that would provide longer rights of residence.
But according to the government, the proposed changes would provide an option for parents who sit between a temporary visitor visa and permanent parent visa.
The Turnbull Government is seeking community submissions on a series of issues which will affect the final design of the temporary sponsored parent visa.
The Government today released a discussion paper containing the design issues under consideration on the sponsored visa program and will undertake a series of community consultations. Read the Discussion Paper here.
It is envisaged that migrant families will be able to spend more time with parents as early as in 2017.
Public submissions must be received by midnight, Monday 31 October 2016; to make a submission, email: firstname.lastname@example.org