Statement on 457 Visas and medical practitioners

Tuesday 6 September 2016
"In the past, there has been a doctor shortage in Australia, which was the result of limited planning and investment in the country’s medical workforce. In the early and mid 2000s, efforts were made to rectify this. This included increasing medical graduate numbers and expanding medical schools in Australia, and also scouting doctors from overseas to fill areas of need, in particular rural areas," Dr Lorraine Baker, President of AMA Victoria said.
"There is no longer a doctor shortage.
"There has been a significant increase in the number of medical graduates coming from Australian universities. Across Australia, there has been a 150% increase in medical school places since 2004,  unsurprisingly, this has led to a bottleneck pressure to train these junior doctors: to such an extent that there are now unemployed junior doctors in Victoria.
"For this reason, the AMA has strongly opposed the establishment of another medical school, as there are not enough training positions for the current cohort of medical students and junior doctors. Analysis and workforce planning must come first to address the medical workforce training pipeline and maldistribution issues.
"The data acquired by the Herald Sun details that there are 305 international medical graduates (IMGs) working in Victoria on 457 Visas.
"IMGs have been critical to filling the gaps in our medical workforce. However, the 457 scheme has not properly addressed the maldistribution of doctors. There is still a shortage of doctors in in some rural areas, while at the same time there is high density numbers in inner-metropolitan areas.
"The AMA has been lobbying the Federal Government to amend the 457 visas scheme for medical practitioners (i.e. the current exemption from labour market testing for medical practitioners). More locally, AMA Victoria has been lobbying the Victorian Government to address state-based medical workforce issues. In particular, the urgent need for medical workforce planning, which looks at both demographic areas of need and also the types of doctors / specialities needed," Dr Baker said.
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