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Hello goodbye: skilled migrants leave SA

Monday, 8 July 2013
Author: Kevin Naughton, Indaily

Around two thirds of skilled migrants are leaving South Australia within a couple of years of arriving, while refugees and humanitarian entrants are much more likely to stay here, a parliamentary inquiry has been told.

Despite targeted programs to bring skilled workers to the state, South Australia experienced a net loss, through internal migration, of around 1100 migrants over the 2006-2011 period.

"This was second only to New South Wales which is a much larger recipient of migrants," State Parliament's Social Development Committee's review of the migration says.

"Of more concern is the loss of more than 1300 skilled migrants from South Australia.

"This is more than Victoria and only slightly less than New South Wales."

The committee spent almost three years reviewing the impact of migration on South Australia.

It found that while federal data was able to estimate movement of migrants from one state to another, detailed records could not be kept due to privacy restrictions.

Evidence presented by overseas migration agents drew a picture of dissatisfaction among skilled migrants, despite incentives to stay.

"...while the South Australian Government, through Immigration SA, has offered some incentives to migrants, approximately 60 to 70 per cent would probably only stay in South Australia for about two or three years and then move to other states after they have been granted their permanent residency visas to be closer to friends, children and for better investment opportunities.

"If they don't get in through the door and get the opportunity for an interview, they are left out, they become dissatisfied, some of them go back and some of them go interstate.

"Therefore, South Australia keeps losing these people who came here because they had those skills that South Australia or Australia needed."

The committee heard that refugee and humanitarian entrants are very likely to live out their lives in South Australia.

While approximately a quarter of all migrants subsequently leave, the corresponding statistic for refugees and humanitarian entrants is 12 per cent.

Government agency Multicultural SA told the committee it was difficult to keep track of interstate movements by migrants.

The agency said it has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, over the past few years, to find a way to determine how long new migrants stay in South Australia.

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