The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne recently wrote a press release titled, “Jobless, asylum-seekers can fill work gaps rather than 457 visas“. Included was the following paragraph:
Instead (of 457 visas), we should be giving support to our own young people, giving them pathways through training to these employment opportunities. We have seen the despair of young people facing long-term unemployment. We want to give young people hope about a meaningful future, including the dignity of work.
Religious institutions in Australia do much good in relation to social justice. Yet this is exactly the wrong path to take when discussing migration.
The labour market is not either/or. We should be giving our support to the young unemployed. This is inarguable. Yet this does not preclude immigration for the purposes of work. The 457 visa program is 75 per cent professionals and managers, positions which employers will not provide to unemployed youth, however much we wish it were so. Calling for employers to employ asylum seekers living in the community does much to simplify what is a very complex policy environment. This helps no-one, especially asylum seekers.
The first step is for these 30,000 people to be provided work rights. Instead of using 457 visa holders as a scapegoat, the Anglican Diocese would be better served focusing on the nub of the issue.
I was firmly against Temporary Protection Visas being reintroduced last year, however every month that ticks by is another where these people are suffering without adequate support in the community. The Abbott government are not going to change their stance on permanent protection visas for asylum seekers, no matter what pressure is applied. A solution exists somewhere, however I’m unsure as to what it is.