There’s good news for Australian aged care providers who are struggling to meet the growing demand for skilled workers!
Aged care workers no doubt play a crucial role in supporting and caring for Australia’s ageing population. Aged care providers can now request an Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement (“ACILA”), which aims to help address the serious and ongoing shortage of workers all throughout Australia.
What does this labour agreement offer?
Under the ACILA, approved aged care providers can nominate skilled workers for certain employer-sponsored visas, to work in direct care occupations such as:
Nursing Support Worker
Personal Care Assistant
- Aged or Disabled Carer
Registered Nurse and Enrolled Nurse occupations are not included in this Agreement.
What do employers need to do?
Firstly, aged care providers who want to access this labour agreement must consult with and enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the relevant union(s):
- Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
- Health Services Union
- United Workers Union
The relevant union for the MOU will depend on the occupation group(s) being sought, service settings (residential or home care) and the state/territory where services are provided. In some instances, more than one union could be party to the MOU.
After an MOU is signed, aged care providers can proceed to request a Labour Agreement by making an application to the Department of Home Affairs.
What visas are available under this agreement?
Employers can either sponsor a skilled worker for:
Temporary Skill Shortage TSS (SC 482) - provisional visa valid for up to four years
For eligible applicants who hold a relevant AQF Certificate III or equivalent OR have one year of relevant work experience (to substitute for the formal qualification)
No extra work experience is required in addition to the above.
A permanent residency pathway can be available to sponsored workers who demonstrate at least 2 years of full-time experience in the nominated occupation in Australia.
Employer Nomination Scheme ENS (SC 186) – permanent visa
Those who have already worked in aged care in Australia could access a shorter, direct path to permanent residency (PR).
Applicants who possess two years’ experience in a directly relevant occupation (not tied to a particular employer or visa subclass) may be nominated for a permanent 186 visa.
This work experience must have been undertaken in Australia (meaning overseas experience does not count).
For both TSS and ENS visas, work experience needs to be relevant to the nominated occupation (at the required skill level), full-time or otherwise part-time pro rata, and undertaken in the last five years.
Advantages of Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement vs Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA)
The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold TSMIT for employer sponsored visas is set at $70,000 (or at least $63,000 if salary concession is available under a DAMA).
Compared to this, the minimum salary under the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement is AUD $51,222.
Certainty in occupations available
The Agreement covers a range of lower-skilled and semi-skilled roles within the aged care industry, namely Personal Care Assistants, Aged or Disabled Carers, and Nursing Support Workers. These roles are no doubt essential for ensuring quality care and continuity of care.
Compared to this, not all regional areas covered by a DAMA contain all of these occupations.
Direct PR pathway
The Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement can offer a quicker path to PR for those who already have relevant Australian work experience in the aged care industry.
Work Visa Lawyers has supported many businesses across Australia to negotiate and enter into labour agreements including DAMAs, industry and company specific. If your sponsorship needs are not currently being filled by the standard migration program, we are here to help.
Do I need a skills assessment?
Applicants do not need a positive skills assessment, if they hold a relevant AQF qualification that was completed in Australia.
A relevant skills assessment for the nominated occupation is required for applicants who have an overseas qualification or are relying on work experience to substitute for a formal qualification.
Should I get a Student visa to study Aged Care?
Aged care studies may not be the preferred option, because it does not directly lead to visa options in the standard migration program. You might instead consider studies in a field with more migration pathways.
The aged care occupations are not currently on Australia’s skilled occupation list. This means visa options are limited for aged care workers.
For instance, there are no General Skilled Migration pathways (points-based visas Skilled visas such as 189, 491 or 190).
Employer sponsored visas are only available under certain Designated Area Migration Agreements, or otherwise the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement. A challenge could be finding a sponsoring employer willing to nominate you for a visa.
A family member or friend in Australia wants to sponsor me, to provide aged care support services. Can they apply for an Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement?
No, only Australian aged care providers can access an Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement.
An approved provider is an organisation that has been approved by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, to deliver Australian Government subsidised home, residential or flexible care services to older Australians.
Your family member or friend might instead consider accessing those services through an aged care provider that you work for.
How do I find a sponsor for the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement?
These are some approaches you can try:
- Search popular recruitment websites such as Seek or Indeed. You could include search terms such as “DAMA”, “sponsorship”.
- Speak with those in your networks. Perhaps you have a friend or coworker working in aged care who can recommend or refer you
- At the time of publication, this is the list of current Aged Care Industry Labour Agreements:
- Curtin Heritage Living Inc.
- Uniting NSW.ACT
- TLC Aged Care Pty Ltd
- Fremantle Italian Aged Persons Services Association Inc
The Department of Home Affairs also publishes a list of current labour agreements here (but this may not be regularly updated though): https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/employing-and-sponsoring-someone/sponsoring-workers/nominating-a-position/labour-agreements/list-of-current-labour-agreements
I’m 45 years old (or over), can I apply for permanent residency through an Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement?
Unfortunately not. The ACILA does not offer a concession to the age limit for PR (186 visa), and applicants must be under 45 when they apply for this visa.
What concessions are available under the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement?
A reduced TSMIT applies - $51,222 per annum.
English requirements depend on whether the aged care provider is CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) or not.
Those sponsored by CALD providers must achieve:
- 482 visa – overall IELTS 4.5 (or equivalent) with no minimum scores in each band
- 186 visa – overall IELTS 5.5 (or equivalent) with no minimum scores in each band
Those sponsored by non-CALD providers must achieve:
- 482 visa - IELTS 5.0 (or equivalent) with minimum of 5.0 for Speaking and Listening, and 4.5 for Reading and Writing.
- 186 visa – overall IELTS 5.5 (or equivalent) with no minimum scores in each band
How can Work Visa Lawyers help?
If you needs help with this visa, Work Visa Lawyers can assist you.
Work Visa Lawyers is highly experienced in all parts of an employer-sponsored visa application process. We are able to assist with all aspects of the application, and will provide an eligibility assessment before advising you to proceed with a visa application.
Our team of experienced Immigration Lawyers and Migration Agents look forward to assisting you with your potential application(s).
Based in Adelaide South Australia, we provide Australian Immigration advice to people and businesses from all over the world.
You can book an appointment online or call us at (+61) 8 8351 9956.
This article is not intended to be or taken as migration legal advice. The author of this article disclaims any liability for any action or omission on the information provided or not provided in this article. You should always consult an immigration lawyer or a registered migration agent (like Work Visa Lawyers) to form an informed opinion on your immigration matter.