The Australian authorities hope to attract skilled immigrants to non-metropolitan areas under a new initiative by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA).
A report by DIMIA on January 21 recommends using the existing Skilled Independent Regional (SIR) visa to provide more places for migrants agreeing to settle in areas of low population growth for at least two years. It is hoped the initiative will help boost regional areas, particularly in the southern state of Victoria.
The Commonwealth/ Victoria Working Party on Migration Final Report, August 2004, makes a number of other proposals as well. These focus on developing services to help regional employers take on immigrant workers and to help migrants settle into regional areas.
Australia's Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said that overseas students who have studied for two years in regional Australia and had obtained degrees, diplomas or trade qualifications would be encouraged to apply for the SIR visa while in Australia.