Government responds to medical research concerns on 457 visas

04 July, 2017

Changes to the 457-visa program show the Government is prepared to listen and act in support of medical research.

Professor Tony Cunningham AO, President of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI), said that the restoration of key medical research roles to the Medium- and Long-term Strategic Skill List (MLTSSL) will make it possible for medical research institutes to remain globally competitive and recruit the world’s very best medical researchers.

Occupations such as life-scientist, biochemist, biotechnologist, statistician, and microbiologist which had fallen off the list earlier this year have now all been restored.

"This is really great news for medical research and for the outstanding medical researchers who have come to Australia to share their exceptional talents and discoveries with us. The changes mean we can continue to recruit the world’s best, and for those already here, it provides them with the certainty they need to continue their work," said Professor Cunningham.

"I welcome the thorough consultation the Government undertook when developing the new skills list. Medical research is one of Australia’s strengths, and to remain amongst the best in the world we occasionally need to recruit world-class researchers to fill specialist skills gaps. These scientist come to Australia, train Australians, and help build up our capacity to develop new drugs, therapies and medical devices."

The changes respond to many of concerns raised by AAMRI on behalf of medical research institutes:

  • Life-scientist, biochemist, biotechnologist, and microbiologist have been added to the MLTSSL
  • Statistician, University Lecturer and Chief Executive (Institute Director) have been moved from the Short-term Occupations List (STSOL) to the MLTSSL
  • The Government is looking at how time studying towards a PhD will be counted as work experience when applying for new skilled visas.

"Scientists who have come to Australia to work have made some tremendous discoveries that have benefitted the health of the nation. For example, think of the Gardasil vaccine created here by virologists of Scottish and Chinese origin in Professor Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou respectively.

"I am delighted that the next generation of overseas scientists can come to Australia and work with our Australian scientists to make new amazing discoveries and develop new treatments and therapies for patients."