Unlocking Talent: Empowering Migrant Workers with Equal Opportunities

Since the white settlement era began, Australia has experienced frequent labour shortages and has relied heavily on immigration to boost the population and fulfil local labour needs.

The significant immigration policy changes of the 1990s transitioned our migration program from one based on long-term family reunion and permanent migrant settlement to one primarily reliant on temporary migration.

In the last year, government efforts have been focussed on reviewing our migration system towards designing a legal framework that is simpler for migrants and employers and ensures Australia remains competitive and attracts the best talent to skill the nation for the future.

The Review of the Migration System Report (2023), acknowledged the high level of skills mismatch experienced by migrant workers, suggesting that around half of international students who stay in Australia after completing their studies end up performing jobs beneath their skill level.

However, very little has been heard from migrant voices regarding their experiences working or applying for employment in Australia and how we can ensure that our system is inclusive, free from discrimination, fair, and provides equal opportunities for all.

This research relied on survey responses from over 1,200 participants and explored migrant worker experiences in the employment market, including access to work, racial equality, inclusiveness and skills recognition. The research revealed that a significant number of migrant workers experienced discrimination when trying to enter the Australian workforce and have been offered unequal working conditions due to their visa status, with 37% reporting that they had been offered a lower salary due to their visa type.

This underscores the ineffectiveness of the current legal framework and the need to introduce policy changes that promote inclusiveness and prevent discrimination against migrant workers in the employment market.