The Tasmanian government has announced measures to support temporary visa holders (TVH) in the state. The Premier unveiled the four-point plan in his media conference this morning. The announcement came after no support has been provided by the federal government, leading to hardship among foreign nationals on temporary visas. “We will not turn our back […]
The Tasmanian government has announced measures to support temporary visa holders (TVH) in the state. The Premier unveiled the four-point plan in his media conference this morning.
The announcement came after no support has been provided by the federal government, leading to hardship among foreign nationals on temporary visas.
“We will not turn our back on temporary visa holders in our state,” said Premier Peter Gutwein.
He said he understood there are a significant number of temporary visa holders in Tasmania – an estimated 26,000 including students, fruit pickers and skilled workers such as chefs and health workers – who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus restrictions in place.
“We know they are experiencing hardship and income loss as a result,” Gutwein said. “In some cases due to business closures and the restrictions we have in place their incomes have now been stopped or have been severely curtailed.”
The four points of the plan include:
- extension of the eligibility for Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants, if a TVH can demonstrate genuine financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This will provide an immediate payment of $250 per individual or up to $1000 per family.
- additional funding to non-government organisations to provide additional emergency relief and assistance where required.
- for those whose country is safe to return to, the provision of travel advice, and if necessary due to genuine financial hardship case-by-case financial support.
- collaboration with industry sectors or employers who want to retain their employees because of their specialist skills in the state for when their business is able to start up again and additional support in partnership with them so needed skilled workers are not lost.
Up to $3 million will be allocated towards this initiative.
“We know that many Tasmanian businesses have benefited from employing temporary skilled visa holders, and those on other types of temporary visas also make a significant contribution to our economy, particularly to the tourism and education sectors,” said the Premier.
He said TVH had contributed to making Tasmania what it was, and that it is “fair to support them in their hour of need.”
“The impacts of coronavirus have been widespread and there are many people doing it tough right now. We are committed to further consultation with key industry sectors to determine if there are any additional needs, because we strongly believe the support we provide to temporary workers and international students now will directly affect how these sectors recover post-pandemic.”
For information on emergency support, such as the Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants, visit: www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/
To register interest in support to return to your country of origin, call the public health hotline on 1800 671 738 by 23 May 2020.
Madeleine Ogilvie, Independent MHA for Clark, said she was delighted to welcome the news of Tasmanian support for visa holders today.
“I have lobbied hard to make this happen. We have an obligation to help people who are stuck here,” she said.
“This emergency has seen terrible impacts to so many people. Through no fault of their own, international students, visitors and workers have been caught up in the crisis. My office has been inundated with requests for help. I have been quite literally dropping grocery vouchers to people in serious trouble – that’s the level of economic distress.”
Niall Harden, a British national from Northern Ireland who was working at MONA, said the support was extremely welcome. “It’s nice to have the state governments across the country stepping up where the federal government has failed but it shouldn’t be necessary.”
He noted that the support amount is equivalent to $115, ‘which of course isn’t the point but is illustrative’.
Labor and the Greens are yet to respond to the announcement.
Source: Tasmanian Times https://tasmaniantimes.com/2020/04/tas-govt-to-support-temporary-visa-holders/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tas-govt-to-support-temporary-visa-holders